Hearts want to extend Miguel Pallardo’s contract and the Spanish midfielder is keen to stay at Tynecastle next season, the Evening News can reveal.
Pallardo’s existing deal expires in May but Hearts plan to discuss a longer-term agreement before the season ends.
Tynecastle officials want automatic promotion secured before offering new contracts but Pallardo is one player head coach Robbie Neilson wants to keep. The Spanaird is happy in Edinburgh and would be receptive to an extension, according to his representatives. He scored his first Hearts goal last weekend in the 4-1 win at Alloa.
Neilson explained to the Evening News that keeping Pallardo is high on his priority list. The 28-year-old arrived as a free agent last September after leaving the Spanish club Levante and has impressed in central midfield.
“We’ve said to a lot of the guys coming out of contract that, until we’re over the line [with the league title], we don’t know exactly what our budget is going to be,” said Neilson. “Miguel has come over from La Liga in Spain and he was happy to take a season in the Championship in Scotland. Whether he wants to take another season here, I don’t know.
“Most of the boys in that position are waiting to see what the outcome will be at the end of the season first. Miguel is a player everyone would want to keep. We want to keep him.”
Pallardo’s agent, Clive Jagger, revealed that his client does want to remain a Hearts player. “We’re very impressed with everything at Hearts,” he said. “Miguel is very happy there indeed and at the moment we don’t feel he could be at a better place. It’s definitely an option we would be looking at.”
Neilson offered high praise for Pallardo’s performance levels after watching him open his scoring account for Hearts with a sublime 30-yard effort last weekend. “It was a fantastic strike,” continued the head coach.
“He’s a great player who is excellent at keeping the ball, breaking things up and doing the simple things. Obviously he’s adding shots to his game, which is great. Our boys were probably just as surprised as Miguel was to see it fire into the top corner but he is such a good player. Miguel is a sitting midfielder who has great technique. However, if he can get a few more goals like that this season, I’ll be delighted.
“He’s been in and out of the team but when he’s come in he’s done fantastically well. We have Prince Buaben and Morgaro Gomis in that position, who have done superbly well this season too. It’s been difficult to pick two out of the three of them so it was nice to have them all playing at Alloa.”
Pallardo, meantime, has been summoned to appear in court to address match-fixing allegations – just 24 hours before the Edinburgh club host Queen of the South at Tynecastle.
Pallardo will face questioning in Valencia on Friday, March 27, with the session scheduled to take place at 10am UK time.
Files submitted by Spain’s Anti Corruption Public Prosecutor allege Pallardo was one of 41 individuals who received payments totalling ¤965,000 (£767,551) to fix a La Liga encounter between his former club Levante and Real Zaragoza in May 2011. Pallardo played the full match as Zaragoza secured the 2-1 victory they required to avoid relegation.
All 41 defendants, including 35 current players such as Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and former Celtic star Jiri Jarosik, will face prosecutors over the next three months, according to a court schedule circulated by Spanish publication ‘AS’.
If found guilty, those alleged to be involved could face maximum sanctions of four years in jail, a six-year ban from football, or a fine of almost ¤3 million.
Hearts boss Neilson has previously absolved Pallardo of any wrongdoing, stating “I don’t think there is anything there to worry about”, while Jagger insisted “there is no case to answer for Miguel”.