Robbie Neilson fires Hearts warning to Celtic and Rangers as he sets out dream four-player transfer scenario

Robbie Neilson reckons Hearts’ European windfall can help them finally flip the script on Glasgow’s big two.

The Jambos fought off Hibs to book a return trip to Hampden where they will face Rangers in the Scottish Cup final.

Not only that, though, the huge derby win guarantees them group stage European football next season – either in the Europa League or the Conference League.

They go into the playoff round of the Europa League where even if they lose they will drop into the third tier of European football.

And Neilson is hoping the windfall it generates can see them cut the gap on Celtic and Rangers next season.

“We want to try to challenge at the top end of the table,” Neilson, who is set to open talks about a new deal in the summer, ambitiously claimed.

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Rangers and Celtic have a budget which is 10 times that of ours.

“We know it will be a gradual build up and it won’t be done in one window.

“If we add a bit to the budget we can get two, three or four players who are a level above and that takes us consistently into Europe.

“We aren’t going to chuck every single penny at it, we will take our time.

“We are beginning to get the right players in.

“We have a way we want to play and we have guys behind us who can get the right people in.

“We will have good windows and not so good ones but it’s about trying to limit them.

“This summer we want to have a good one to cement third place.”

Neilson knows Hearts have a lot going for them but Europe and the possibility of winning trophies will be two massive pulls for them and sporting director Joe Savage as he begins his business for the summer.

Neilson acknowledged: “Being in Europe will help us attract players.

“A lot of it comes down to finances but it also comes down to when you are talking to them you tell them they will have European football until Christmas at least.

“We have got to the Scottish Cup Final and we want to do it again next season and winning trophies appeals to players.

“We have a great stadium, training ground and great city to live in with a big fanbase so it ticks loads of boxes, so it is now about finding the right players.”

Neilson has already got many of his existing top stars on long-term deals and is hoping Peter Haring follows. Neilson and his coaching staff of Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest are out of contract at the end of next season. He expects to take place at the end of the season when this campaign is done and dusted.

Neilson confirmed: “I’m sure, over the summer, we will sit down and talk and get something done. We’ve got European football in the group stage, it’s absolutely brilliant to look forward to.”

Meanwhile, Hearts still fear Hampden hero Craig Halkett could miss the Scottish Cup Final.

The Jambos are awaiting scan results on the injury he suffered in Saturday’s semi-final win.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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