Kyle Lafferty Could Be King Of Hearts

I think it’s fair to say that Kyle Lafferty is a pretty enigmatic figure.

The forward can look a world beater for Northern Ireland and then seem very ordinary at a side like Norwich City.

In the last three years Kyle has only scored seven club goals, in the same time frame he’s actually scored ten for his national side.

This week Lafferty returned to Scotland and signed for Hearts. He previously played in Scotland’s top flight at Rangers and that was probably his most successful stint at any club. So no doubt the striker will be hoping to get back amongst the goals during his spell in Edinburgh.

I actually think the move could be great for all concerned.

At twenty-nine, Kyle must know that he has to start producing regularly again at a football club.

It’s all very well him doing it on the international scene but club football is your bread and butter as a footballer and if you continually miss out then your place for the national team comes under threat.

With Northern Ireland doing really well in their World Cup qualifying campaign, then Kyle will be desperate to star for them in Russia if they stay on course and qualify in next summers glamour event.

So Hearts should be signing a hungry player in Lafferty and one eager to succeed and prove himself after a few stop start career moves.

He’s a striker who is capable of running all day, into the channels and behind opposition defenders. He’s better in front of goal when he has to act on instinct and get his shot away early, usually with drilled shots across the keeper. He’s also useful in the air and can mix it up with strong defences.

During his time at Ibrox, he managed 31 league goals in 104 appearances. Now he arrives back in Scotland with something to prove and an older player. So he has a great chance to increase that ratio as long as he says fit and away from trouble.

The hitman also succeed on the park for Palermo in Italy during the 2013-14 season. His eleven league strikes helped the Rosanero to the Serie  B title.

But his off-field activities were too much for the Italian side with then club president Maurizio Zamparini washing his hands of Lafferty due to his antics:

“He is an out-of-control womaniser, an Irishman without rules. He is someone who disappears for a week and goes on the hunt for women in Milan.

“He has two families with six children, he never trains, he’s completely off the rails. On the field he’s a great player, because he gave us everything he had and more.

“In terms of his behaviour, however, he is uncontrollable. My Coach told me he cannot sort this player out, so he has to go.”

Hearts will be hopeful that his attitude has significantly changed. He will know that Austin McPhee (Hearts assistant boss & Northern Ireland coach) will report back to Northern Irish manager Michael O’Neill if he goes off the rails in Scotland’s capital.

A major plus for Lafferty is the fact he’ll walk into Tynecastle and he’ll be regarded as one of the team’s star players.

He’s a forward who needs to feel loved and important. If he respects his coach, then he will also accept a few home truths and improve on his performances.

The fact he seems to have knocked back Hibs in favour of the Jambos should make him an instant fan favourite.

The tall hitman is also a player that enjoys the big games. With Celtic, Rangers, Hibs and Aberdeen all in the league, I’d imagine he would thrive in those fixtures.

Last season Jamie Walker topped Hearts scoring charts with his twelve Scottish Premiership strikes. Jumbos boss Ian Cathro has to lay the gauntlet down to Kyle Lafferty and demand he beats that figure. I’d be expecting between 15 and 20 from the new forward this season.

I think Lafferty believes that Hearts could be a stepping stone to a better pay day elsewhere. He has previously stated that he’d like to return to Ibrox one day.

But I don’t see that as a negative for Hearts because if he wants to better himself then first and foremost he has to succeed at Tynecastle and give them his best.

That to me is key for Hearts in this deal. They know that Lafferty will arrive with something to prove and will hope that he can prove it in Edinburgh.

He’s a step above what they already have in their squad and they will hope his goals and performances can get them back amongst the big boys and challenging for trophies.

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