Dundee United look set to pull off a transfer coup by nabbing midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes from Premiership rivals St Mirren.
The Irishman was offered a new deal by the Buddies but it is understood he is set to turn it down in favour of a move to Tannadice.
When he puts pen to paper, the Republic of Ireland youth international will become new head coach Thomas Courts’ second signing.
But just who is Doyle-Hayes and what can he bring to United heading into the new season?
Doyle-Hayes effective shield for back four in No 6 role
The 22-year-old made 30 appearances for the Buddies last season as they managed two cup semi-finals and a seventh-placed finish – the club’s best performance in over 30 years.
The former Aston Villa kid spent most of the campaign in a holding midfield role, with his best performances coming before the turn of the year.
Although billed as an attacking midfielder by many, the former Cheltenham Town and Cambridge United man is more at home as a No 6, shielding the back four.
He did so with aplomb on his St Mirren debut, incidentally, a 0-0 draw with United, where he first caught Courts’ eye in his previous back-room position as head of tactical performance.
On his potential new recruit, the Terrors boss said: “Jake is someone who was part of that opposition and future recruitment work we did.
“We highly recommended Jake to the club. I think he fits the profile of the type of player we like at the club.
“He is on an upward trajectory and he is highly ambitious.”
It is clear to see why Courts was so impressed.
Doyle-Hayes covered a lot of ground that evening in Paisley, registering 73 touches of the ball, a total only topped by fellow-St Mirren man Richard Tait (77).
The ball only spent 19.3% of its time in the hosts’ final third as Doyle-Hayes totalled two tackles, three interceptions and a block.
While Calum Butcher did a similarly impressive job for United defensively, totting up four tackles and three interceptions, Doyle-Hayes proved he could do it at both ends of the park.
Most of St Mirren’s attacks (42.7%) came down the right-hand side where the midfielder primarily occupied.
The Irish star executed a game-high 34 passes in the opposition’s half as the Buddies dominated possession 57.3% to 42.7%.
Two of those counted as key passes, with an overall pass accuracy of 75.5% displaying Doyle-Hayes’ ability to retain possession and control for his side.
In the following weeks, numbers in that category would soar up to 83.3% against Aberdeen and a remarkable 90.5% as St Johnstone came to town.
His average for the season levelled out at around 80% as the youngster showed he could be trusted to marshal the midfield in the top flight.
Coupled with a combative Butcher or an energetic Jeando Fuchs, Doyle-Hayes could be the man to provide a platform for the Tangerines to build attacks.
Comfortable as a destroyer but promise of a goal threat too
Although it’s not the cornerstone of his game, Doyle-Hayes has proven he can get forward to some effect.
He scored his first goal for the Buddies in only his second league outing – a 1-0 victory at Livingston two weeks after the United stalemate.
The result ended an 11-game winless run for St Mirren as they turned their campaign around from there out.
What also catches the eye about Doyle-Hayes is his willingness to mix it as he got himself embroiled in duels all season long.
Over the course of his 22 top-flight games last term he registered a duels success rate of 56.25%, winning an average of about six per 90 minutes, showing he’s not afraid to get stuck in and often comes out on top.
Speaking prior to his St Mirren’s 2-0 Boxing Day win over Ross County, boss Jim Goodwin praised Doyle-Hayes’ impact since joining the club.
“Jake has shown everybody what a key player he is,” he said.
“His team-mates think the world of him, they know what a great addition he has been to the squad.
“The supporters watching the games he’s been involved in have seen the quality he’s brought to the team.”
Doing a lot of work that goes unnoticed, he may not grab the headlines or light up the stats sheet at the top end of the park.
However, if he can replicate his St Mirren form, Doyle-Hayes will get the appreciation of his team-mates and fans alike who know a player when they see one.
Assured in possession, with an eye for a pass and the ability to get stuck in when required, it appears the former Villa star has all the ingredients to aid United and come back to haunt his old club in the coming season.