Liverpool transfer closing in as pundit hails new arrival as a major coup

Date published: Thursday 19th August 2021 6:09 - James Marshment

Liverpool FC's Ben Woodburn battles Osasuna's Roberto Torres

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has revealed negotiations are ongoing but is prepared to stay patient as the Edinburgh side close in on the signing of Liverpool midfielder Ben Woodburn.

It first emerged on Wednesday that the Jambos hope to persuade Liverpool to allow the 21-year-old Wales international to move north on loan.

Woodburn has made 11 first-team appearances for the Reds and won 10 international caps. He’s also gained vital experience during loan spells with Sheffield United, Oxford and Blackpool.

However, his signing would be a feather in the cap for Hearts.

Nonetheless, Neilson was refusing to get carried away when asked for an update.

Neilson said: “We are still negotiating with Liverpool. We are almost done with it, it’s just a case of trying to get things finalised.

“He is still a Liverpool player at the moment and he is one we are really interested in taking here.

“I don’t want to comment too much on it. We are still negotiating, as we are with a few other players as well. We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of days.

“We have waited a number of months now to get the right players in. We are continuing to do that now with the guys we are trying to recruit. If we need to wait, we need to wait.”

Former Celtic striker John Hartson, meanwhile, reckons the signing of Woodburn will be a huge coup for Hearts.

Speaking about his fellow Welshman, he told the Daily Record the move can help rekindle his career.

“I watched Ben make his debut for the national team. He burst onto the scene at a very young age,” Hartson said.

“Ben was playing at Liverpool and Chris Coleman gave him his chance for Wales.

“He scored a really big goal against Austria on his debut when he was just 17.

“At that point everyone could see he was a fantastic young talent.

“But he’s stalled a wee bit recently. He went back to Liverpool and never really kicked on as well as he’d have wanted.

“He hasn’t featured for Wales over the last couple of years either but he’s a very good player. He’s versatile and can play as a centre forward, out wide or as a number 10.

“He has electric pace, he’s got a really good football brain and of course he’s been at Liverpool from an early age. He’s been training with world-class, international players.

“I’m not sure how he’s progressed over the last year or two but he’s still very, very young. If Hearts were to get him I think they’ll be getting a very exciting prospect.

“It’d be a massive coup if Hearts could get him. Massive.

“They’ve started well beating Celtic and adding Ben would be another boost for Robbie Neilson. If Robbie can pull this one off he deserves credit.”


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Hearts to become Britain’s biggest fan-owned club

Neilson also addressed the news that Hearts would become a fan-owned club by the end of the month.

The Foundation of Hearts will assume control from Ann Budge. That’s more than seven years after teaming up with the businesswoman to rescue the club from the threat of liquidation.

“It’s absolutely magnificent,” said Neilson. “The achievement of Ann and the fans and the board, and everyone who put it together in the Foundation of Hearts.

“It’s a monumental achievement for us all. It’s continuing as well, the fans are continuing to back the team. Now it’s about building and moving forward.

“It’s a wonderful achievement but I believe it’s just the start now with fan ownership.

“I was here before Ann took over. I know what state the club was left in and the problems in the background.

“The work that has gone in and the commitment from the Foundation of Hearts and the board and Ann and everyone involved. But also from the fans, donating money every month, is just magnificent.

“To be the biggest fan-owned club in Britain is some achievement.”

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