Best and worst Hearts transfers of Joe Savage era as sporting director prepares to quit

The Joe Savage era at Hearts is coming to end and after three-and-a-half quick years.

It was reported today that the sporting director will be stepping down from his position at Tynecastle after informing club chiefs of his decision to resign. Savage had an up-and-down time in Gorgie with views among fans fluctuating throughout after an initial impact with signings like Beni Baningime.

The 39-year-old took flak at the AGM last year as some of the signings from last summer failed to hit the ground running, but progress had been made on that front and things were looking rosy again, meaning today's news was a bit of a bolt from the blue.

There are of course other areas of the club on the sporting directors remit but transfers are the one we can easily judge and also what fans are most interested in. So here is a look at the best and worst signings of the Savage era.


Lawrence Shankland

The undoubted best signing of this era, and indeed for a very long time at Hearts. 28 goals in his first season and 31 in his second gives Shnkland a quite remarkable strike rate in maroon and to say he is a talisman is an understatement. If Savage could sign out by getting the skipper to sign a new deal, that would leave some legacy.

Beni Baningime

It's believed this one came about from a recommendation from now manager Steven Naismith, but you assume the sporting director is involved and has to sign off on transfers. After arriving from Everton, Baningime announced himself with a man-of-the match display in a win over Celtic and never looked back in that first season. After a nightmare year out through injury, he was back to his best in the last campaign and has just signed a new deal for another two years.

Frankie Kent

It was clear what Hearts needed going from the 2022/23 season into 203/24 - a proper centre half with defensive nous and composure. They got that in Kent and went from a team who shipped goals from cross balls and corners to one which barely conceded at all. A superb signing.

Alex Cochrane

Cochrane was identified as a target from Brighton's academy and signed on loan. After a reasonable first season he was signed permanently and then really kicked on to become a key figure. Could fetch the club £2million if he moves on this summer - and that would be more if he didn't only have a year left on his deal.

Barrie McKay

Twelve assists in his first season as the winger quickly became a creative force. That died down last season, partly due to injury, but his qualities have still been on display at times. Could be a big season coming up if he can shake off the injuries.


Orestis Kiomourtzoglou

During the German midfielder's early struggles in Gorgie, Hearts and Savage were adamant he would prove to be a player. That didn't happen and he was offloaded after one year.

Garang Kuol

Much hype and excitement surrounded the loan capture of the young Aussie. Unfortunately, he looked like a fish out of water and times and barely started any games for the Jam Tarts.

Ben Woodburn

Another loan signing with a big reputation who ultimately failed to live up to the hype. Since been at Preston and recreated the below par end product.

Armand Gnanduillet

Initially looked like Hearts had a player on their hands but the towering striker only lasted a year at the club, scoring six goals.

Robert Snodgrass

Again, initially showed promise but his time at the Jambso fizzled out before being bombed when Steven Naismith took over