Hearts open informal talks on new Sergio deal

Hearts chief executive David Southern last night said the club are delighted with the impact Paulo Sergio has made as manager and revealed contract talks to extend his deal have already taken place.

The Portuguese coach, who replaced Jim Jefferies in August, guided the Tynecastle side to all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final against Hibernian with a dramatic win over champions Celtic on Sunday, while Hearts are also still in with a chance of reaching Europe through the SPL.

The team’s on pitch success is all the more impressive given the squad have battled against a backdrop of several unsettling wages delays. Sergio revealed at the weekend that Hearts have the option to extend his contract, which expires this summer, and informal talks over his future have already taken place.

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Southern said: “It’s really a question for Paulo. We’re very pleased with what he’s done here. The supporters like Paulo, the players like Paulo and what he’s done for the squad, so if talks go well, we are positive towards what will happen next season.”

Southern, meanwhile, admits the fans should expect to bid farewell to several first-team players this summer as the club looks to cut costs.

Semi-final heroes Rudi Skacel and Craig Beattie will be free agents at the end of the season along with Ian Black, Stephen Elliott, Suso Santana and David Obua.

Speaking to STV, Southern added: “We’re looking to retain the core of the squad but, naturally, there will be drop off at the end of the season. Our focus has always been to bring through young players and develop them and there will be opportunities for them.

“Once we have some sort of clarity of our position next season in terms of European football or otherwise, then we’ll be in a position to open contract talks with various players.”