HEARTS will approach Charlton Athletic about signing Tony Watt permanently at the end of the season. T
The striker’s loan deal expires next May and club officials will open talks to negotiate a potential long-term stay at Tynecastle.
Watt’s Charlton contract runs until June 2018 and there is no clause in the loan agreement for Hearts to sign him at any stage. Charlton would want a transfer fee for the 22-year-old, who has made a big impression in Edinburgh despite playing only six games in maroon to date.
Watt took a considerable wage cut to return to Scotland in the summer and is already a popular figure with the supporters. Fans would be excited by the possibility of keeping him, but much would depend on the price Charlton want and his salary demands.
The London club agreed a fee of more than £1million with Blackburn Rovers for Watt in January this year when the player was loaned to Ewood Park. The move was to become permanent in the summer but he returned to Charlton early due to injury.
That kind of price would be far beyond Hearts. They worked tirelessly to complete Watt’s loan deal for this season and remain hopeful that he could play for them for more than just one campaign. If a permanent deal proves impossible, another loan could be an option.
“We’d love to keep him for another year and I think Tony would like to stay as long as he can,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach. “He’s starting to get settled up here and his family is here, but the cards all lie with Charlton on that one. We’ll try to get the best out of him this season and then try to put a case forward to take him for another year.
“There’s no option in the loan deal. Tony was desperate to come back up to Scotland and he took a huge hit in his wages to do it, which is credit to him. He just wanted to come up and play football. He’s got another year on his contract at Charlton, so ultimately it’s down to them.
“Tony has been doing really well. He’s worked hard and done everything we’ve asked him to do. Ultimately it’s down to Charlton and Tony to make a decision at the end of the season. Tony knows I was desperate to get him here and we worked hard to get him. Credit to him, he showed his desire to come back up to Scotland and come to Hearts by taking a huge cut in his wages.”