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Confusion as Hearts Claim Adebayo Deal Agreed Before Walsall Issue Denial

Walsall are working to retain the services of top-scorer Elijah Adebayo amidst interest from Heart of Midlothian.
Walsall FC remain determined to retain the services of striker Elijah Adebayo despite Scottish Championship side Hearts claiming they have already agreed contract terms with 23-year-old.

As we reported last week, the Saddlers have already rejected an offer from the Tynecastle-based side for the former Fulham man and are hoping to agree fresh terms of their own before he becomes a free agent in the summer.

However, table-topping Hearts remain keen to add Elijah to their ranks as soon as possible with manager, Robbie Neilson, recently claiming Adebayo has verbally agreed terms on a move up North.

Neilson's admission forced Walsall into action with the club issuing a brief statement denying any deal to sell their top-scorer had been agreed, although that doesn't stop the forward from signing a pre-contract agreement as he is in the final few months of his deal.

According to recent reports Hearts boss Neilson spoke with his his WS1-based counterpart Darrell Clarke last week and informed the gaffer that under the current regulations his club are allowed to speak to Elijah, as they are based outside England, something which Neilson claims Clarke was unaware.

Under recently changed FIFA rules surrounding development fees, the Saddlers would receive a fee of more £100,000 should the striker join Hearts after his deal at the Banks's expires at the end of June.

Previously, compensation would only be required up until the end of the season in which a player reached 23 years of age, however, fees are now applicable until the end of the calendar year in which a player turns 23.

Meanwhile, the Hearts boss also sought to respond to criticism levelled at him by Walsall FC as both manager Darrell Clarke and other officials criticised his conduct as the pursuit for Adebayo continues.

Speaking via the Edinburgh Evening News, Neilson said; "It's well documented we put an offer in for Adebayo. It initially got knocked back so we will see where that one goes and whether we go back in again.

"He has been the number one target for us for a while now. Ultimately, he is their player. He scored two goals again on Saturday.

"We just need to see if we can come to some agreement. I spoke to their manager on Friday night about it.

"The problem was that they didn't understand the rules, so I had to explain to them what the rules are when it's a cross-border transfer.

"They thought they were going by the English FA rules – that a player can only speak to other clubs when he enters the last month of his contract. The FIFA rules are that he can speak when he enters the last six months."
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