Hearts striker Steven Naismith has revealed he has agreed a contract to convert his loan deal into a permanent arrangement this summer.
The Scotland internationalist, who has scored 14 goals in 27 appearances this term, has become a key player at the Gorgie club both on and off the park during two loan spells from Norwich City over the last 18 months.
Such is the impact the 32-year-old has made that he was named both players’ and fans’ player of the year at the club’s award ceremony on Sunday, even though he has missed more than four months of the season following two knee operations, the most recent two months ago.
Naismith will become a free agent this summer and had considered a move to the MLS in America. However, the forward says negotiations with Hearts have reached a successful conclusion and he expects news of his new deal to be released in the near future. The former Rangers, Everton and Kilmarnock player, who also acts as a mentor to Hearts’ young players, said: “To be honest, we’re there. It’s literally just the official side of things that needs to be crossed and dotted, if you like.
“The whole time I’ve been at the club it’s been pretty relaxed, the manager, has been great with me. We’ve got an honest relationship and it’s one that when I say I’m going to do something I’ll do it and vice versa. The club have worked really hard to make me feel welcome and offer me something that I feel is acceptable and in return I hope I have given myself everything that I have to offer and hopefully that can carry on for many more years.”
Naismith is not expected to play in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic on 25 May after undergoing his latest knee operation in March and says he is disappointed he has not been able to contribute more to a disappointing Premiership campaign that is set to end with a sixth-place finish.
“It’s very frustrating I’ve not managed to be involved in a lot of times when maybe I feel I could have contributed and the squad could have done with me in the team,” he said. “But we’ve got a fantastic group and that shows in terms of what we’ve done in the cups. There is a lot of progress to be done but overall we are going in the right direction.”
Speaking about his awards on Hearts TV, Naismith added: “It’s very good, the fans come every week and watch good, bad and indifferent performances and it’s always nice to get a bit of recognition from them as it is from the squad.
“These are the guys you come to work with and you want to impress and make sure you’re a good team-mate, so to get an award from those guys is extra special.”