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Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Anthony Haggerty auth-> Thomas Prammer
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HEARTS TRANSFER PLEA Valdas: Don't miss Korea star
By Anthony Haggerty

HEARTS chief Vladimir Romanov was last night urged not to let South Korean star Ahn Jung-Hwan slip through his fingers.

New Tynecastle boss Valdas Ivanauskas has pleaded with Romanov to seal the signing and open the gates to a Far East cash windfall.

Ivanauskas wants the striker signed in time to join the Jambos' training camp in Austria at the start of next week.

And he's praying the prospect of millions from the Orient in shirt sales and TV rights will persuade Romanov to act quickly and beat Tottenham to his signature.

The 31-year-old - who scored the winner in South Korea's group match against Togo at the World Cup - has a clause in his contract which forces MSV Duisburg to sell him for £500,000 because they were relegated from the Bundesliga. Ivanauskas said: "Hearts are still interested in Ahn and we will look at things over the next two or three days.

"We will talk to him and see if he wants to come to Hearts.

"He says he wants to play in the Champions League so we will wait and see what happens.

"He would be a great addition to the squad because he is quick, can score goals and has lots of experience from playing in the South Korean national team.

"We have quality strikers here but Ahn would still give us something extra. He is a good player.

"There is a big interest from Ahn in South Korea. He could be for Hearts what Nakamura is for Celtic. It is always good to get supporters from other countries to follow Hearts.

"From my point of view I see the qualities he would bring to the Hearts team but Mr Romanov is a businessman.

"Mr Romanov is here for two days. He was at both World Cup semi-finals and he is heading back to Germany for the Final.

"I had a ticket for that match too but I am staying here with the team."

Ahn has offers from the English Premiership - most notably from Spurs - and his representative, Tom Sanders, urged Hearts to move quickly.

He said: "I've spoken with Valdas and he said he will tell Romanov that he wants Ahn.

"I told him I need an answer. I said, 'Don't wait too long or it will be too late'.

"They have to give an answer in the next couple of days because the clubs in the Premiership who want Ahn have given us a deadline of this weekend.

"Valdas assures me he has a strong interest in the player but it seems the communication there is not so good."

Hearts will also run the rule over Georgian international trialist Giorgi Popkhadze until the end of their camp.

The left-sided full-back, who can also operate in midfield, already has five caps for his country despite being just 19 years old.

But Ivanauskas denied that Popkhadze is a replacement for contract rebel Rudi Skacel.

He said: "I hope maybe to get another two or three players over to play the last game next Wednesday night."

Ivanauskas confirmed that crocked midfield linchpin Paul Hartley was preparing to fly to France to see a specialist about the groin problem that has threatened to rule him out of the Jambos' first Champions League clash at Murrayfield on July 26.

Neil McCann joined the rest of the Jambos first-team squad for some light training yesterday.

Taken from the Daily Record

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