Exclusive: Hearts open talks to keep Lawrence Shankland at Tynecastle

Discussions are underway about extending the prolific striker's contract
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Hearts have opened contract talks with top goalscorer Lawrence Shankland as they try to prolong his time at Tynecastle Park. Club officials began discussions over extending his deal, which is due to expire in summer 2025, in the midst of another prolific season in front of goal.

The 28-year-old has scored 18 times in 28 games at club level this term, including 13 in his last 14 appearances before the winter break. He struck 28 goals in 47 outings last season as he marked his first season in Edinburgh by becoming the first Hearts player to score more than 20 times in a single campaign since John Robertson in 1992.

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With Rangers and a number of English Championship clubs monitoring his progress, Hearts want to tie Shankland down on a longer contract. "The club have started speaking to him at the moment and we will see where that goes," explained head coach Steven Naismith, speaking exclusively to the Edinburgh News.

"The club value him as somebody who is really important. There are quite a few players in the squad who I can see being here for a longer period of time, building for themselves personally and helping us progress as a club. Shanks is one of those people.

"I would say that what he has done over the last two seasons has pushed him into legendary status at the club, rather than simply being a really good signing. It's clear for everybody to see that he is a big part of it for us. He's got 18 months left on his contract and he is at an age where the decisions he makes are really important.

"There is speculation all the time and he needs to deal with that. He needs to work out what he really wants and that's where it lies. As long as Shanks is at the club, everybody should appreciate him and enjoy what he does for us. He loves it and you can see he enjoys it. He is a leader and he is scoring goals.

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"If that stops this month, or it stops in the summer, or it stops next summer, that's football. On the flip side, if he signs and he stays for a long time, he becomes a real top-level club legend who hopefully breaks lots of records which are within his grasp. That's realistically where we sit with it all."

Talks are expected to continue over the coming weeks. Hearts have no intention of selling Shankland during the current transfer window as they look to cement third place in the Premiership between now and May. The only way that would change is if they receive an offer they cannot refuse - and that would need to total several million pounds.

"There will be a discussion [on the contract] and eventually it will get to an end point where a deal will get done or it won't get done. That is simply it," said Naismith. "Shanks is probably playing the best football he ever has. He is probably at his most prominent in terms of national team status with people pushing for him to be part of the Euros squad, so this is an important time in his career.

"In the short-term, he needs to keep focused and doing what he is doing. The other stuff: You have a feeling inside of what is right and what to do, and you need to follow that feeling."

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