Hibs like him, he likes Hibs, but is there any future at Easter Road for Emiliano Marcondes beyond May?

Nick Montgomery certainly wants to have 'a conversation' about it; a stance that is, at once, completely unsurprising yet more than a little tantalising for supporters. Of course, the manager is interested in keeping Marcondes around - he'd be having his sanity questioned if he didn't.

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On loan from Bournemouth, the former Danish youth internationalist has brought a touch of class to Hibs, and the Easter Road side have allowed an injury-troubled playmaker to get back to enjoying his football once again. Fading into the background at the Vitality Stadium, Marcondes had not registered a single competitive minute for eight months before a late cameo against Rangers in January, albeit there were a couple of unused substitute appearances for the Cherries shortly before his trip north.

Afterwards, he relayed the wisdom of his agent in describing him as a 'cold pasta dish' - unappealing and in urgent need of heating up. I'm not going to torture that analogy any further, but the current arrangement between club and player is serving its purpose in diverting his career back on track.

Having turned 29 earlier this month, Marcondes will be acutely aware that his injury troubles have gnawed away at what should have been the start of his peak years, and it's no small consideration for a player to decide how best to spend precious time that he will never get back. In concluding whether the agreeable surroundings he has found in Edinburgh are to be anything more than temporary, there will be a number of factors at play.

The first, as it continues to make the world go round, will likely be money. If this were a case of Hibs being asked to match the player's Bournemouth wages when his contract expires this summer, then there would be little point in even having a discussion. The club cannot begin to cover Premier League salaries, even those at the more modest end of an obscene scale.

But the partnership with Bournemouth owner Bill Foley could open doors to another arrangement. The fact that Montgomery wants to discuss it come the season's end suggests it's not a dead end.

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"There’s no doubt we’d like to have a conversation with Emi," the manager told the Edinburgh Evening News. "But that will be at the end of the season. Right now, we’re concentrating on finishing the season strong. Because that can help us, as well.

“For me, it’s about Emi enjoying himself at the club. He obviously likes the city, I get on really well with him, as do the coaching staff and the players. Emi's not a kid; he’s at a good age in his career, but him coming to Hibs will have to fit within the budget. Nothing changes on that. But definitely, we’d like to have those conversations."

One possible outcome is an extension of his Bournemouth contract to then remain on loan at Hibs for a further year, allowing Marcondes a full pre-season and likely an entire campaign playing regular first-team football, something he has not done for several years, while still taking home a Premier League salary. 

As Montgomery stressed, a pivotal factor will also be the player's own career ambitions. His thinking could certainly be influenced by Hibs' end to the season - a late push for European football would make another year that bit more attractive, but a series of bottom-six dead rubbers? Not so much.

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He enjoys Montgomery's style of play, and clearly has a good relationship with the manager. It was a face-to-face meeting in Dubai back in January that persuaded Marcondes to venture to Scotland in the first place, and it will be encouraging for Hibs fans that when that end-of-season conversation does take place the Dane will, at the very least, be willing to listen.

Marcondes appears to have settled in well to the club and the city and has already become a fans' favourite. He has spoken of enjoying regular minutes once more, and a style of play that is considerably more attractive to what went before. He has certainly played a part in turning that around but it has been a team effort as well. 

At Hibs' end, it would be a signing worth pushing the boat out for. There's a sense Marcondes is still short of his best, but StatsBomb data shows him as already outperforming most of the Premiership's attacking midfielders in a number of areas, as demonstrated below.


Hibs Observer:

With money to come in via the Foley link-up, fans are - within reason - expecting Hibs to show a degree of ambition this summer. Extending Marcondes' spell at the club, one way or another, would undoubtedly do that, not to mention securing Hibs a very talented player for another campaign.

They will, in all likelihood, have to contend with rival suitors if a deal is to be done, as there will no doubt be plenty of clubs in England and further afield sniffing around a player of Marcondes' pedigree. Hibs' advantage is he has already sampled what Easter Road has to offer, and knows it's a good fit for him.

The club might just need all the stars to align in just the right way at the right time, but if Montgomery isn't ruling it out at present, nor should anyone else.