Rangers will have to significantly increase their offer if they are to have any chance of landing Kyle Lafferty after Hearts dismissed the Ibrox club’s £200,000 bid for their talisman on Thursday evening.
The 30-year-old scored 19 goals last season after joining from Norwich City last summer and although he only has a year remaining on his contract, the Tynecastle club would be unwilling to sell the Northern Ireland striker unless they were to receive a drastically enhanced fee.
Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu have both been recruited to bolster the attack this summer, but Lafferty remains Hearts’ most pre-eminent striker. If he was to depart this transfer window, Craig Levein would have to act quickly to find a new centre-forward in the coming weeks capable of filling the scoring void. David Vanecek has already agreed a pre-contract to join in January, but it remains to be seen if Hearts would be able to strike a deal to buy the highly-regarded Czech from FK Teplice this month.
While weighing up any offers for Lafferty, Hearts’ management must also consider the impact his departure would have on the morale of a support who have taken him to their hearts over the past year.
Lafferty played for rangers for four years between 2008 and 2012 and retains a bond with their supporters, but a return to Glasgow will only materialise if the Ibrox club, who have already paid seven-figure fees this summer for Jamie Murphy, Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic, are willing to increase their offer for their former player in order to meet Hearts’ valuation. The Tynecastle club will be keen to ensure there is no repeat of last summer’s stand-off with Rangers over Jamie Walker, when the attacker became distracted amid several low offers from the Ibrox club before eventually joining Wigan Athletic in January.
It remains to be seen if Lafferty will face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Betfred Cup tomorrow, with the striker having been substituted in his last two matches due to a problem with his glutes.