Hearts hold talks with Barrie McKay as Joe Savage reveals details of move for winger - plus why club rejected John Souttar bids
Savage has held talks with the Scotland internationalist, who is a free agent following his summer exit from Swansea and one of the main targets at Tynecastle Park.
Hearts believe McKay, 26, could be a regular starter in their side but face competition for his signature from teams in England.
“Barrie is someone we have had initial discussions with to see where he is at,” explained Savage. “We all think Barrie is a very good footballer. If we can do something on that then we will try to do something. I know he's got interest in England so it's just a matter of trying to negotiate to see if you can do something.
“We feel that's the type we want. We want quality players like Barrie McKay and if we can get him then brilliant. If not, I'd like to think it shows the standard and the quality we are trying to bring to the club.
“We could take players from other leagues who might not come in and make an impact, but we look at Barrie McKay and think he will come in and impact the starting 11. That puts more pressure on the boys there just now and that's the quality we need to get to where we want to go.
“So he is someone we have spoken about. There's nothing done, no contract has been put in front of him. He wants to see his options and then come back to us.”
Hearts rejected two offers from an unnamed English Championship club for John Souttar earlier last month. The defender is out of contract next summer and talks are ongoing regarding an extension.
Savage would rather Souttar left for free next year than sell him on the cheap now. “We did knock back two offers from a Championship club that didn't meet our valuation in any way,” he said.
“From speaking to John, Ann [Budge, chairwoman], Andrew [McKinlay, chief executive] and Robbie [Neilson, manager], we all felt that we would rather keep John here this season than sell him for a fee that we don't think he's worth.
“If that means he leaves next summer on a free, then so be it. Hopefully we've either persuaded him to stay, or we've finished, first, second, third, fourth in the league, or we've done well in the cup and he'll leave with our best wishes.
“We don't want him to leave and we're trying our best to keep him here but we're not ones to hold grudges. If John gets an offer he feels he can't turn down, then sometimes there's nothing you can do.”
“John's a Rolls Royce of a centre-back. If he'd played another ten or 15 games he probably would've been in the Scotland squad. We value and rate him that highly which is why we knocked back the offer.
“We feel he's better kept here playing than selling him on the cheap, if you want to call it that. He can't talk to anyone about a pre-contract until December 1. It's now up to Robbie and I over the next few months to absolutely batter him – not physically – to get him to sign a new contract."