Kyle Lafferty was at Tynecastle yesterday for talks about a possible summer move to Hearts. However, it is understood there remains a considerable gap between player and club in terms of salary.
Lafferty, 29, is a free agent after being released by Norwich City at the end of the season. He arrived at Tynecastle with his wife Vanessa and was later pictured being driven away by Hearts’ chief operating officer Scot Gardiner, with assistant manager Austin MacPhee.
Hearts owner Ann Budge was guarded when asked about the club’s interest. She said: “We have been talking to many people. Is Kyle’s name on a list? Absolutely, along with many, many others. The team are working very hard and have already made two very good signings [Cole Stockton and Christophe Berra]. They will continue to work.”
MacPhee is understood to be key to the negotiations. As part of the Northern Ireland coaching set-up he knows Lafferty well. The former Rangers striker played a major role in Northern Ireland qualifying for Euro 2016 and has an excellent strike-rate at international level, with 20 goals in 58 games.
His club career has been a little less dynamic. He struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular in three years at Norwich and had spells out on loan at the Turkish side Caykur Rizespor and Birmingham City.
Prior to that he spent a season each with Italian Serie B side Palermo and Swiss Super League team Sion. His time at Rangers was profitable if not exactly trouble free and he scored 31 league goals in 104 games during four years with the Ibrox club, helping them win the league title in three successive seasons.
Meanwhile, Hearts’ schedule for the new season remains to be finalised after the SPFL handed them home fixtures against Kilmarnock and Motherwell in August – despite Tynecastle being out of commission while work continues on the new stand which will not be ready until early September. The club are now in talks with the league to re-arrange the games against Killie on 12 August and Motherwell on 26 August.
They said in a statement: “The club previously agreed with the SPFL that no home games would be scheduled for Tynecastle prior to September 9. However the computer model used by the SPFL could not accommodate this scheduling.
“Therefore, although the published fixture list shows that Hearts are due home matches in rounds two and four, there is absolute clarity and agreement that this will not be possible and these games will not be played at Tynecastle.
“We have been assured by the SPFL that this is not an issue and our fellow Premiership clubs have all been very co-operative and sympathetic to our position. We are therefore urgently exploring the different options available to us with regards to rearranging these two fixtures and an announcement will be made shortly.”