After having their patience put to the test since the January window opened, Hibs fans were rewarded with a pleasant surprise via the loan capture of Myziane Maolida on Thursday evening.

Nick Montgomery’s interest in the player emerged earlier in the month, but there had been little indication that a deal was imminent when he was suddenly unveiled in green and white. There had been conflicting reports over the viability of a deal for the 24-year-old Hertha BSC attacker, and he was attracting admiring glances from other clubs across the continent after falling out of favour at the 2. Bundesliga outfit.

But it was Montgomery, and sporting director Brian McDermott, who prevailed in convincing Maolida that Easter Road is the place to course-correct a career which, after hugely promising beginnings, has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Maolida was once among the brightest prospects in a Lyon academy which has frequently churned out global superstars, but a succession of unsuccessful moves clearly left the player in a rut, reaching a nadir with a very public fall-out with Hertha manager Pal Dardai at the end of last year.

READ MORE: Hibs make first January signing as Myziane Maolida joins from Hertha Berlin

But he could well prove a significant signing for Hibs across the remainder of the campaign, bolstering a squad light on attacking options. Here, the Hibs Observer takes an in-depth look at Maolida’s journey from Paris to Leith, and what he could offer over the next few months.


Born in the French capital in 1999, Maolida was picked up by Lyon aged 15 from amateur club AC Boulogne-Billancourt. He progressed rapidly through the academy ranks, and made his senior Ligue 1 debut in August 2017, aged just 18, and less than a month after Lyon pushed to tie him down on a five-year contract. A regular in France's youth international setup, Maolida represented Les Bleus through to the U-21s, before choosing to play for Comoros, eligible via his parents, at senior level.

Expectations surrounding Maolida and his fellow crop of academy graduates were high in France. As he began to emerge, Lyon sold talisman Alexandre Lacazette to Arsenal, and Maolida was among a select few touted in L'Equipe - the notoriously difficult-to-impress French sports newspaper - as a potential heir. 

His first steps in the senior team were promising, scoring in Ligue 1 and the Europa League within three months of his debut, and notching 22 appearances and three goals before his 19th birthday. In February 2018, it was reported that Rafa Benitez had failed in an attempt to bring him to Newcastle United.

That summer, though, Maolida did depart, joining Nice in a then club record deal worth €10m. Despite being willing to let him go, Lyon moved to insert a significant 30 per cent sell-on agreement into the transfer, while Nice protected their investment via a staggering €100m release clause.

Brought in by manager Patrick Vieira with a view to replacing Mario Balotelli, Maolida failed to shine. A raw talent, he was unable to provide the spark that Vieira's struggling side needed, albeit his cause was not aided by a string of frustrating injuries. He managed just five goals across 63 appearances before being sold to Hertha in summer 2021.

18 appearances and a single goal followed in his first season, and it wasn't long before he was back on-loan in France with Stades de Reim for the latter half of the 2022/23 campaign. Hertha attempted to sell him that summer, but contract talks with Turkish side Ankaragucu reached an impasse, leaving the forward in limbo.

Relations with Hertha manager Pal Dardai then took a sour turn, and Maolida was sent to play for the club's B team with a quite ruthless rant from the head coach still ringing in his ears.

“He should get away from us as quickly as possible," said Dardai in November last year. "He was given a lot of chances and was as lazy as very few players I have seen in my life. We are very fair with him. He scored goals because he was fit. We pay attention to him, I also know his stats, how much he runs in training and so on. But with me he wasted his chance."

Maolida's agent Philippe Lamboley quickly sprung to his client's defence, dismissing Dardai's 'baseless attack': “I understand that Mr. Dardai is offended that a player like Myziane, who he has not used since the beginning of the season and whom he dropped, has played in international games at a high level and acted as a centre forward. Something that Mr. Dardai, who works hard, never noticed. The only thing we could agree on with this great, visionary coach is that he encourages us to get away from him."

Strengths and weaknesses

Maolida is a versatile attacker who has been deployed left, right and centrally in the forward line. Given the fluidity encouraged by Montgomery in his 4-4-2 formation, Maolida’s ability to play across the pitch is an obvious attraction for the manager.

As his goal record suggests, he is not an out-and-out striker, and prefers to get himself involved in build-up rather than playing on the shoulder. When initially deployed through the middle at Lyon, it was noted that Maolida would tend to drift towards the left flank or between the lines in central areas, and that he was not comfortable engaging in traditional hold-up striking play.

He looks at his most threatening when driving into space, either from deeper central positions or in drifting in off the flanks. During his short loan at Reims in 2022/23, he was ranked in the top 20 Ligue 1 players for progressive runs. In the example below, a turnover in the opposition half sparks Maolida into life, and he makes up impressive ground to run out-to-in past several defenders, and is played in to score one-on-one.

He can also make these driving runs with the ball. In the example below, again the out-to-in movement is apparent, with Maolida picking the ball up midway inside the opponents’ half, jinking past a challenge and into the final third, where he then slips a ball through to set up a goal.

There is also evidence he is not necessarily a one-trick pony in that regard, either. He is predominantly right-footed, but when receiving on the left it’s clear Maolida likes to move inside, feint to shoot, committing the defender before cutting onto his left and driving. His first goal for Lyon, against Apollon Limassol in the Europa League, came from standing up a defender and motioning inside as though to shoot into the far corner, only to chop back and create space for a left-footed shot. He had previously caught the eye with this motion in a 2017 friendly against Celtic, taking three defenders out of the game with that same movement before finishing from an acute angle.

The test now for Maolida will be to add greater numbers to his game. Nine senior career goals, and 10 assists, is not a particularly inspiring return for a player with such obvious talent. Hibs require a spark, and there will be significant responsibility placed on Maolida to provide it. It remains to be seen whether he can rise to the challenge of being the main man, as lofty expectations will be an inevitable by-product of his relatively high profile.

‘Lazy’ accusations unfair?

There’s no denying Hertha manager Dardai had issues with Maolida’s application, and that there was a complete breakdown in their relationship, but there is evidence to suggest his assessment wasn’t entirely fair. Gerard Bonneau was Lyon’s head of youth recruitment from 2003 to 2017, and helped catalyse the careers of Lacazette, Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial, Hatem Ben Arfa, Houssem Aouar, and Nabil Fekir.

His impression of Maolida was that he gave off an air of ‘false’ nonchalance that could be deceptive. “Above all, he knows how to do everything,” said Bonneau. “And he is capable of a brilliant move at any moment of a match.”

At Reims, again, he was ranked in sixth in Ligue 1 for recoveries in the final third (2.71 per 90 minutes), and for counterpressing recoveries (4.06 per 90 minutes).  In the example below while playing for Hertha, he shows a tenacity to speedily recover several yards on an opponent advancing dangerously into the final third, and makes an impressive challenge to halt the attack.

Why hasn’t his career taken off?

It’s fair to say that Maolida has not yet realised his full potential, and that a January loan to the Scottish Premiership is a far cry from being linked with Barcelona and transfers to the Premier League while still in his teens.

Get French Football News described his career to date as a ‘mystery’, and he is very much a player in need of rejuvenation. The move to Nice – a team already struggling for goals and then known for playing a defensive style – appeared to shatter his confidence, and it’s been attested that he is an individual who needs to have that belief instilled in him through managerial guidance and – crucially - consistent football.

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In revitalising the likes of Jair Tavares, Montgomery has shown an ability to breathe new life into players in a short space of time, and is known for being an effective man manager. His success at Central Coast Mariners was built on a person-centred approach, and he has since implemented that approach at East Mains.

There’s certainly a feeling that player and manager may well be good for each other, but only time will tell.