Craig Levein believes Hearts have signed up one of Scotland most prodigious youngsters after Sam Nicholson agreed a new three-year contract.
Director of football Levein hopes to recruit seven or eight new players this summer but stated that re-signing Nicholson would be as significant as any.
Hearts added midfielder Morgaro Gomis and striker James Keatings to their squad last week after emerging from a year-long administration process. Re-signing Nicholson is the latest step in their rebuilding programme.
The 19-year-old was out of contract after a debut season in which he established himself as a first-team regular at Tynecastle. He made 26 appearances and impressed supporters with his skill, pace and awareness despite his lack of experience.
Also impressed was Levein, who was appointed director of football by Hearts’ new owner Ann Budge last month. “We’ll make a lot of signings over the summer and I’m expecting seven or eight players to come in, but I doubt if any of those will be as significant as Sam re-signing,” Levein told the club’s website.
“He showed great maturity last season, for someone so young. Once he got his chance in the first team, what impressed me almost as much as his ability was his work-rate and his knowledge of the position that he played in.
“He’s got a willingness to help his team-mates and that is very valuable. From his debut he really lit the place up. He’s very much one of our, and Scotland’s, brightest young talents.
“It confirms to the Hearts support and everybody out there that we’re serious about developing young players. Sam committing for another three years is excellent news for everybody.”