Hearts manager Craig Levein says he is disappointed with the level of Rangers’ transfer bid for striker Kyle Lafferty. The Northern Irishman was left out of the starting line-up for yesterday’s 5-0 Betfred Cup win against Inverness and Levein admitted the matter could rumble on.
He has discussed the situation with Lafferty after Rangers submitted an offer of around £200,000 for the man who scored 19 times last season for Hearts and whose contract expires next summer.
Asked if there had been any new developments, Levein said: “Nothing has changed. Rangers made an offer, we said: ‘No, thank you.’ That’s it. I’m not going to use any adjectives to describe the offer apart from ‘disappointing’.”
Levein went on to describe why he left Lafferty – who has had a back complaint – out of the side yesterday. “As much as Kyle says it’s not having an effect, I think it probably has. Uche Ikpeazu was really good when he came on on Tuesday so it was quite an easy decision for me to make.
“I had a long chat with Kyle on Saturday and Sunday about his responsibilities as a professional. He tried like a bear when he came on yesterday and he was focused.”
Levein is unsure if Lafferty’s head has been turned by Rangers’ making their interest official. “I could say yes or no 100 per cent. My focus was on the team and trying to make sure that, if he was on the bench, he could assist us when he came on.
“He did very well. The good thing is we only have another month of this nonsense. I’ve no idea if there will be another offer. We had the same dealings with Rangers over Jamie Walker. I kind of expect the same thing again.”
Rangers tried to sign Walker with several offers last summer. The winger eventually joined Wigan Athletic in January. Hearts value Lafferty much higher than £200,000 and were miffed by the size of Rangers’ offer.
“I’m not even going to talk about it. That’s how much I think about it,” said Levein.
The manager stressed his priority is trying to ensure the player is now focused on helping Hearts on the pitch as the new Ladbrokes Premiership season nears kick-off.
“He is one of the best players in our team and I want him round about it. I want to use him and play him when I want to. As far as I’m concerned, him and I are fine and I don’t have any issues at all.”