On the day Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson described Osman Sow as the club’s fastest-ever player, the striker acknowledged that he is in no hurry to sign fresh terms at Tynecastle.
The Swede will be free to speak to suitors from 1 January with his contract set to expire next summer. Hearts have already opened discussions in an attempt to re-sign a player who has scored 20 goals in 18 months and supplied countless assists.
It appears, however, that nothing is likely to be resolved by the time the transfer window opens next month. And, as Neilson braces himself for interest in a 25-year-old who has “got everything”, Sow admits he has unfinished business in England following an unproductive year at Crystal Palace prior to joining Hearts in summer 2014.
“Yes, definitely,” said Sow when asked if he had aspirations of returning south of the border. “You need ambitions or you’re as well going home. You’ve got to think about when’s the right time and if I’m good enough.
“We’ve had good conversations but it has to be right for me and the club. We’ve had good discussions though. It’s going in the right direction – we’ll see. I’m enjoying my football at the moment. The contract needs to be right as well – I’m happy at Hearts and enjoying my football.”
Asked if he would listen to other offers in January, Sow added: “I don’t know about that, I’m trying to focus on my football because if I think too much about other things I’ll not perform.”
With footballers regarded as being at their playing peak towards their late 20s, Sow acknowledges that his next contract has to match both his ambitions on the park and remuneration expectations.
“At the moment it feels that way,” the Stockholm-born player said when asked if it was the biggest contract of his career.
Sow will go with Hearts’ best wishes should he decide to leave when his contract runs out, with Neilson never hiding the fact that he sells the club as a stepping stone to England when he speaks to potential new recruits.
The forward also recognises the role the Gorgie outfit have played in helping him realise his potential.
Sow added: “He’s a very good gaffer with a long future ahead of him in football too, and I’ve also enjoyed working with Steve Crawford, a good guy who has helped me focus on the details of my game. I’ve made many improvements and there are still more to come to allow me to be the best I can.”
Neilson has recently tied down Jamie Walker, Igor Rossi and Arnaud Djoum on new contracts but admits keeping hold of Sow is likely to be greater challenge.
He said: “It is a big stage of his career. He’s a good player and there is definitely going to be interest in him. You can see yourself what a good player he is. He’s got everything really – power, pace, physicality and mentality, as well. It’s all there. It’s just been about putting it all together for him.”
Neilson, whose side will bid to bounce back from last weekend’s bitter defeat at Aberdeen when they travel to St Johnstone today, added: “The main thing is that he keeps doing what he’s doing on the pitch. That’s all we can ask. I think he’s got real potential to go to a very high level in football but staying here allows him to develop.”
Asked if the club would be tempted to cash in on Sow in January if he declines to sign fresh terms, Neilson replied: “It’s something we’ll have to look at but probably not, no.”
Sow’s pace is just one attribute that will attract clubs.
“He’s the fastest player we’ve ever had,” admitted Neilson. “I think his father was a 100 metre runner. He can shift and he’s learning how to use it.”