NAYSMITH REJECTS HEARTS DEAL
By David Allen
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The 21-year-old has two years left on his current deal with the Tynecastle club, but has turned down the initial offer after the club failed to meet his demands.
The cash-strapped outfit could now be prepared to sell the young stopper rather than risk losing him for nothing on a Bosman transfer in 2002, although Jefferies has stated that he will remain in his plans, unlike Paul Ritchie, who was left out in the cold in a similar situation.
"Gary is still very much a Hearts player, and an important one at that," he confirmed. "We put in an offer to extend Gary's contract but he turned it down, which is perfectly within his rights.
"There is no way Hearts want to lose any of our best players and Gary certainly comes into that category, he is now an international.
"Hearts would like him to stay as long as possible, but the club cannot give him what he is looking for. Gary feels he is worth more and no one can blame him for that. It's not because we don't think Gary is worth it.
"Hopefully the situation will change but it is disappointing."
The news is sure to prick up the ears of Premiership clubs Middlesbrough and Ipswich, as well as First Division Fulham, who were all linked with Naysmith over the summer after the the player had earlier expressed a desire to play in the English top flight.
The player's agent, Jim McArthur, revealed that the £2 million-rated star was "disappointed", but rejected the idea of him leaving just yet.
"Gary is keen to stay but the money is not right," he said. "The door is never closed but, right now, it's not looking good. He is disappointed because he wanted to stay for four years."