Hearts: Christophe Berra has signed a pre-contract agreement to return

Christophe Berra
Christophe Berra has returned to Hearts after eight years in England

Hearts have confirmed the summer signing of Scotland defender Christophe Berra.

The 32-year-old, who has spent the last eight years in England, will return for a second spell at the club after signing a pre-contract agreement.

"I wanted to come back. There's only one team in Scotland I wanted to play for: Hearts," Berra told Hearts TV.

"I'm born and bred in Edinburgh, my friends and family are here and hopefully I can end my career here."

Berra has spent the last four years at Ipswich Town, and he will become Hearts manager Ian Cathro's first signing of the summer transfer window.

"I've spoken to Ian a few times and I've spoken to other boys about him and they've only got good things to say about him," said Berra, who has agreed a three-year contract.

"Craig Levein was also a big factor, he gave me my debut as a youngster and a lot of my career is down to him.

"So yeah, I'm looking forward to playing for Ian, to playing at Tynecastle again and taking Hearts back to where they should be."

Alexandros Tziolis in action for Hearts
Greece midfielder Alexandros Tziolis leaves Hearts after only six months at Tynecastle

The announcement of Berra's summer arrival coincides with Hearts releasing six players.

Alexandros Tziolis, Andraz Struna, Tasos Avlonitis, Lennard Sowah and Dylan Bikey, all signed by Hearts in January, are leaving the club.

On-loan Stoke City winger Moha Choulay will return to his parent club.

Former Panathinaikos midfielder Tziolis, 32, who has 63 caps for Greece, played 18 times for Hearts.

Slovenia right-back Struna, 28, made 17 appearances, while Greek centre-half Avlonitis, 27, played 11 times, and left-back Sowah, 24, 15 games.

German Sowah was previously with Scottish Premiership rivals Hamilton Accies.

Tasos Avlonitis in action for Hearts
Tasos Avlonitis joined Hearts from Olympiacos

French forward Dylan Bikey, the 22-year-old who signed for Hearts from Stirling Albion before being loaned back to the League One club, is also being released after making only two substitute appearances for Hearts.

Choulay returns to his parent club in the English Premier League after the 21-year-old played 18 times for the Edinburgh outfit.

Tziolis, previously of PAOK, Avlonitis, formerly with Olympicacos, Struna, who was with Giannina, and Sowah were signed by head coach Ian Cathro in January on six-month contracts.

Hearts had a poor end to the season, finishing fifth in the Scottish top-flight, having won only six games from 26 since Cathro took over at the start of December.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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