United States midfielder Perry Kitchen rejected a "big offer" to stay in Major League Soccer in order to join Hearts, says head coach Robbie Neilson.
The 24-year-old has returned to the USA to finalise paperwork after securing a work permit that should allow him to complete his move next week.
"I was pleased to get him and quite surprised," said Neilson.
"He had a big offer in the MLS, but he wanted to come to Europe to get into the USA team more consistently."
Kitchen, who has three international caps and had been with DC United since 2011, could have been playing in Germany instead of the Scottish Premiership.
"He had an offer from a German team, which fell through at the last moment, and, because it was February, he couldn't make a move there because their window shuts," said Neilson.
"But we can still bring in free agents and it was a chance to get him in.
"He is a defensive midfield player who sits in front of the back four, he's very mobile, athletic and a good player.
"He has played in the US national team, which is a really good level."
Meanwhile, Neilson confirmed that right-back Callum Paterson will be out for a month with a shoulder ligament injury sustained last week against Killie.
"He went over on it, but it felt a lot better and we were hopeful he had jarred it," added the head coach.
"But the scan showed a little tear, so it is important to let it settle down.
"He has been one of the key players, but we have a squad and strength in depth."