CRAIG Levein stressed today that he would love to keep Steven Naismith at Hearts but admitted the Scotland striker could earn far more money abroad.
Both parties are in dialogue about a possible pre-contract agreement in January. Naismith is on loan from Norwich City until the summer, when his contract in England expires and he becomes a free agent.
“We have been in constant dialogue with Steven,” said Levein, the Hearts manager. “He is at the point of his career where he is going to have to make a big decision. He is really well respected by myself, by Ann Budge, the staff and the players.
“Steven has had a period at Norwich where he maybe never felt loved or had that feeling that he could help. He is a very generous-spirited guy. He likes helping. It is in his nature.
“He is a lovely guy, he is generous with his time here and desperate to help out youngsters.
“I’d love to keep him here. The financial side is not a massive stumbling block. There are various options that could net him more money than he would get here and he knows that. He could go to Saudi Arabia for two years and earn fortunes.
“I think if you are in a good position it helps. Some players need to go and chase the money.
“I would’ve thought Steven would have been sensible with his earnings over the years. It might be down to lifestyle and enjoying himself. I think he knows how we feel about him.”