Mixu adds to striking pool with Johansson: Hibs boss finally gets his man

Jonatan Johansson

Jonatan Johansson celebrates scoring a goal for Norwich two years ago

Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen has added to his side’s already considerable attacking might as the club unveiled the signing of former Rangers striker Jonatan Johansson on Thursday night.

A former Finland international team-mate of the Hibs boss, Johansson has signed a pre-contract agreement after a spell with Malmo in Sweden drew to a close and he will arrive at Easter Road on an 18-month deal on January 1, when the transfer window officially opens.

The 33-year-old, who scored 24 goals in 36 starts for Rangers in three seasons from 1997, will contest for a place in the Hibs first-team with current first choice trio Derek Riordan, Colin Nish and Steven Fletcher.

Johansson was also linked with a move to Motherwell but the experienced striker, capped 91 times for his country, opted to team up with Paatelainen after indicating his desire to return to Scotland and end his career in the SPL.

He could be in line to make a dramatic derby-day debut against Hearts at Tynecastle on January 3 - a mere 48 hours after officially starting working life in the capital.

And the former Charlton Athletic and Norwich striker is looking forward to using the state-of-the-art Hibs training centre in East Lothian between now and then to get himself ready for the big day.

He said: ‘I am delighted to have secured this move to Hibernian and to be coming back to Scotland. I’m looking forward to the new challenge and to be working with Mixu again.

‘I recently visited the training centre and was blown away. It really is a fantastic facility. I look forward to training there to get up to speed on my match fitness for the New Year.’

Paatelainen has recently come under fire from Hibs fans after a string of poor performances and results from his team.

Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice stretched their run without a victory to five games and increased the pressure on the Finn ahead of tomorrow's clash with Aberdeen.

With poor defending having been blamed for losses and a midfield lacking both strength and creativity, supporters may feel another striker is down the list of their manager’s pressing priorities.

Mixu Paatelainen

Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen has come under fire after a string of poor results

And the arrival of Johansson will doubtless cause renewed concern amongst the club’s fanbase that Fletcher could be off in January with a number of clubs, including Celtic, reportedly interested in moving for the Scotland international.

But Paatelainen, who has been linked with Johansson since taking over at Easter Road in January, is certain his former international team-mate will prove an important recruit.

He said: ‘I am delighted to have secured the services of Jonatan and I am confident Hibernian supporters will quickly appreciate that we have obtained an experienced international striker who has scored goals wherever he has played.

He also has experience of the SPL, so I’m sure he will settle very quickly.’

Meanwhile, Fletcher is hoping to hand Hibs a much-needed boost by declaring himself fit for tomorrow’s visit of Aberdeen.

The 21-year-old, who is in the Scotland squad to face Argentina next week, missed Wednesday’s defeat at Tannadice because of an ankle injury which forced him off at half-time in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home to Inverness Caley Thistle.

Fletcher said: ‘I trained on Thursday and did a full training session with the rest of the boys, which was encouraging. But my ankle was still a bit sore and I’ll need to wait and see how it is on Friday.

‘I’ll need to see if it settles down but hopefully I’ll be OK to play against Aberdeen as it is a big game and one I want to play in.’

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