Craig Levein insists any club planning to sign Callum Paterson from Hearts in January must pay at least £1million.
The Edinburgh club’s director of football is adamant that the Scotland international full-back will not leave for anything less than a “seven-figure sum”.
Paterson, 22, has refused to enter into negotiations with Tynecastle officials over a contract extension and has rejected every offer put to him. He is determined to leave when his existing deal expires next summer.
Hearts will then be due a development fee of around £400,000 according to FIFA rules because the player has been at Riccarton since the age of 15. That figure could potentially rise depending on which club signs him.
Wigan Athletic had a bid offering £550,000 in cash rejected by Hearts in August, and Derby County have since joined the race for the player’s signature. Levein is determined he won’t leave during the winter transfer window unless Hearts’ valuation of £1m minimum is met.
“We have made numerous attempts to keep Callum but he is a strong willed boy,” explained Levein. “He made his mind up, in spite of numerous offers of new deals which he has rejected. We are at a stage where he might move in January, if the number is big enough. If not, we will wait until the summer.
“Wigan made an offer that would have guaranteed us £550,000 but, if we are going to sell our best players and just be recognised as a team that sells at the first sign of an offer, then all that will happen is teams will keep knocking on our door and taking our players for next to nothing.”
Levein bargained hard last winter during negotiations with the Chinese club Henan Jianye, who eventually agreed to pay almost £1.1m to sign striker Osman Sow from Hearts.
Like Paterson, he was entering the final six months of his contract and was coveted by a number of clubs in Britain.
A similar approach is expected this time round, even though Paterson has made it clear he will head for pastures new at the end of the season if not before. Hearts see greater value in keeping him until the summer, particularly given he is the club’s top goalscorer at the moment.
“It was important in January that we dug our heels in with Osman Sow and said ‘he is not going unless we get the right amount of money’”, explained Levein at the club’s AGM.
“We will do the same this January. Callum Paterson will still be here unless we receive a seven-figure sum. That is a fact.”