Sporting director insists new signing shows that Hearts mean business

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New Hearts sporting director Joe Savage insists the arrival of Gary Mackay-Steven sends a clear signal that the Tynecastle outfit mean business.

The former Celtic winger last night returned to Scotland on a two-and-a-half year deal with Robbie Neilson’s side following 18 months with MLS outfit New York City.

Mackay-Steven had been linked with a return to Aberdeen, the club he left in summer 2019, but Dons manager Derek McInnes conceded yesterday that he would not be recruiting any players during January.

New Hearts signing Gary-Mackay-Steven holds scarf above head | Hearts news
Mackay spent 18 months in America with New York City (Pic: heartsfc.co.uk)

The 30-year-old arrives in Edinburgh with plenty of experience in the Scottish top-flight having made 202 appearances across his spells at Celtic, Aberdeen and Dundee United, scoring 37 goals and contributing 43 assists.

The forward won three league titles and a League Cup in his two-and-a-half years with the Bhoys.

And Savage, who joined Hearts on Monday after leaving his head of recruitment role at Preston North End, insists the capture of Scotland cap is an indication of the Championship leader’s long-term ambition.

Savage said: “We feel Gary Mackay-Steven is an excellent player. 

“We show we mean business with that calibre of player.

“Look at the level he has played at, he has won the Scottish Premiership and in our opinion he is a top four Premiership player.

“So for us to get him to the Championship I think shows you the size of this club, the stature, Robbie as a manager, how we operate. 

“I think it’s a good statement from us.

“The proof will be in the pudding. Hopefully he produces and does what we expect him to do.”

With Neilson keen to add a winger and a striker this month, Savage admits Mackay-Steven became an obvious target.

He added: “I spoke with Robbie when I first came in and he had identified two positions he felt were key for the January window.

“A winger was one of them and we both brought up the idea of contacting Gary’s representative to see what the situation was there.

“In terms of Gary as a player we feel that first and foremost, he has an excellent pedigree, you look at his CV and it’s excellent.

“He fits the profile of what Robbie wanted from a winger, he is quick, he is direct, he can create goals and score goals.

“So we are delighted to get it done.

“With recruitment you want good players, any manager will tell you they want good players in their team.”