Callum Paterson won’t be sold on the cheap by Hearts despite being in the final year of his contract.
Robbie Neilson, the club’s head coach, today warned off any clubs hoping to lure the defender away from Tynecastle for a reduced fee.
Neilson hopes to keep the Scotland internationalist beyond the end of the transfer window, which closes at the end of the month. Paterson, 21, remains a central part of the Hearts team but his current contract expires at the end of the season and he is unlikely to sign an extension.
Talks have stalled and the player is now considering his options. Hearts haven’t given up hope of persuading him to stay, and Neilson is adamant he won’t leave unless a serious and substantial offer arrives.
“We certainly are not going to sell for the sake of it. Callum is one of our key players here and he’ll stay involved,” Neilson told the Evening News. “He’s here and he’s my player at the moment. Until that changes, he’ll continue to be here working hard. I hope there will be nothing coming in for him.”
Asked about the chances of Paterson signing a longer deal, Neilson added: “It’s something we speak about but it’s still early days. We want to get this window shut and see where we are from there.”
Paterson is nearing 150 competitive appearances for Hearts since emerging from the Riccarton youth academy in 2012.
Meanwhile, another academy graduate, Billy King, has been told he does have a future at Tynecastle. The winger was loaned to Rangers last season and made a similar move to Inverness Caledonian Thistle last month. He cannot play when the Highlanders visit Tynecastle this weekend due to the terms of his loan. Neilson insisted King can still establish himself at Hearts when he returns at the end of the season.
“He won’t play on Saturday because you put a player on loan and it’s part of the agreement. It’s better for the player because Billy still has a future here. He’ll come back once the loan ends. It’s just part of football that, when a player goes on loan, they don’t usually come back and play against their parent team. We felt that, by staying here, he wasn’t going to get the game time he needs to progress. It’s important to play matches. If he goes to Inverness and does well, as he has done so far, then he comes back and tries to get himself into the Hearts team.”