HEARTS will make every effort to keep Marius Zaliukas at Tynecastle for next season. However, manager Gary Locke admits he is preparing himself for the captain’s exit.
Zaliukas is out of contract this summer and has yet to announce a decision on his future. Hearts would like him to stay, but, as the highest earner at the club, any new contract would involve a significant drop in salary.
Locke has discussed the situation with the 29-year-old centre-back and predicted today that he is more likely to head for pastures new in the summer than remain in Edinburgh.
“His contract is up at the end of the season, as everybody knows. It would be fantastic to keep him here, but I’m not sure what Marius’ plans are,” said Locke. “If I was a betting man, I’d probably suggest he will be on the move. You never know. He’s a player I’d love to keep here.
“I’ve spoken to him about his plans, but he hasn’t made a decision at the moment. I’ll give Marius all the time he needs. His contract is up in the summer and he still has a bit of time to decide what he wants to do. If he goes, good luck to him and we wish him all the best. He’s been fantastic for the club. If he stays, we’ll be delighted.”
The Evening News revealed last week that Zaliukas’ central defensive partner Andy Webster will be offered the chance to remain with Hearts. His contract is also due to expire, but his experience is seen as vital to help the upcoming youngsters in the club’s first-team squad.