Lee Johnson is confident Hibernian will reap the benefits of making a “considerable investment” in signing Elie Youan on a permanent deal until the summer of 2026.
The Easter Road club announced on Thursday that they have taken advantage of an option-to-buy clause to purchase the 24-year-old French forward from Swiss side St Gallen after he impressed during his loan with the Edinburgh side this season.
Manager Johnson revealed the Hibees have paid a fee of “not quite seven figures, but very high sixes” for Youan – who has seven goals and seven assists this term – and he believes it will prove money well spent.
“The club have invested in a young asset,” he said. “Credit to the ownership for the investment they’ve put in, it’s a considerable investment for a club like Hibs, and one that we feel is a good one for us, not only on the pitch but in terms of future value as well.
“Elie has improved phenomenally this season. He’s had an impact in a difficult league. He’s got good numbers in terms of goals and assists and he stretches opponents.
“He’s growing up. He’s moved to a different country and culture and if that trajectory remains, then you’d expect him to have an even better season next season.
“He’s not the finished article and we’re not finished developing him. He’s got mega work to do. This is just an extension of his work and I think Hibs is a great vehicle for Elie.”
The recruitment of Youan was the second bit of notable business finalised by Hibs this week after they announced on Tuesday that 35-year-old Lewis Stevenson – who has spent his entire career with them – has signed a deal to remain with the Hibees for next term. Johnson feels the veteran still has scope for improvement.
“Lewy’s attachment to the club, his personality, and his quality on the football pitch is important,” the manager said. “He’s absolutely trustworthy, you know what you’re getting with him.
“And this is going to sound a bit of a strange one, but I think he’s still got loads to work on. I think he’s got more in the locker than he shows sometimes.
“He’s dynamic, he’s powerful, he’s got a great centre of gravity and he can handle the ball, but I want him to take the ground more, take the little spaces.
“That sounds strange to try and improve someone of his age but he enjoys trying to improve that attacking stuff. But as a defender, you can’t get more honest and trustworthy. He never shirks a tackle, you wouldn’t want to play against him because he’s brave and tough.”