Hibs linked with HNK defender Gorica Cheick Keita as Easter Road side look to strengthen their squad



Cheick Keita in action for Bologna against AC Milan

The 19-year-old has been linked with a series of clubs including Burnley and Watford, and ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Premiership opener against Motherwell at Fir Park, head coach Jack Ross admitted the defender was likely to leave the club in the next few days.

While the Easter Road team can still call on reliable veteran Lewis Stevenson, with Sean Mackie facing a long time on the sidelines, they will be running out of options if Doig steps away this month.

Reports in Croatia recently suggested that a large number of scouts took part in Gorica’s home game against Sibenik on July 24, with the hosts coming out 3-1 winners.

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Winger Kristijan Lovric has sparked interest from Celtic and Hellas Verona and is said to have been one of the players of interest, while Keita is also said to gain attention after a series of strong performances in Prva HNL.

Born in France, Keita, who represents Mali, spent time in his youth with Paris FC before joining the INF Clairefontaine academy, whose graduates include Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Thierry Henry.

He then spent three years in the Monaco youth system before joining the Italian side of Virtus Entella after a series of tries with clubs in France.

Keita made his debut for the Ligurian club in 2015, playing 48 games in total before sealing a move to Birmingham City. He only played 11 times for the Blues and spent time on loan, returning to Italy with Bologna in the 2017/18 season and scoring twice in 24 games while on loan to the Belgian side. the KAS Eupen.

He was released by the St Andrew club in the summer of 2020 and joined Gorica in January 2021, signing an 18-month contract.

An offensive-minded full-back, he is also capable of operating as a left winger or higher on the pitch. The bulk of his appearances have been in a back four, but he’s been deployed to the left several times, scoring twice and assisting once.

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