Levein: We’re putting the building blocks in place
Hearts manager Craig Levein believes he is building towards a period of “sustained quality” as he closes in on contracts for Peter Haring and Steven Naismith.
Austrian midfielder Haring is set to extend his current deal beyond 2020 while Scotland forward Naismith is expected to sign a permanent deal following the end of his second loan spell from Norwich.
Hearts already have the likes of Christophe Berra, John Souttar, Sean Clare and Uche Ikpeazu tied up for the next few seasons and Levein hopes to add Arnaud Djoum’s name to that list with the Cameroon midfielder approaching the end of his deal.
Levein, whose side face Hibernian on Sunday, said: “We are quite far down the road with Peter and Steven. We are in the minutiae of the contracts.
“It gives me the opportunity to put those building blocks in place, to give us a period of sustained quality. I feel it’s really important and I’m working very hard to get them done.
“Arnaud, we have still got a lot of work to do. I told Arnaud I don’t have the mental capacity to do three things at once.
“But I don’t want to give up on Arnaud. He’s a really good player, he knows the league, he is reliable, he’s a great guy. He adds something to the football club.”
Naismith is continuing with his rehab following his second knee operation of the season and is not now expected to be back for the William Hill Scottish Cup final against Celtic on May 25.
“It’s a bit of a dilemma,” Levein said. “If we are going to sign him on a long-term contract and push him just now, it might cause us a problem going forward. I don’t want to push him, push him, push him and he comes back too early and it causes him problems.”
Meanwhile, Levein was unimpressed with the Scottish Football Association disciplinary action he and the club faced on Thursday.
Hearts were fined £500, along with Aberdeen, after being found guilty of being involved in a confrontation with the Dons featuring three or more of their players. Levein also received a censure after being found to have committed misconduct following comments made while watching an under-18s Edinburgh derby.
The Hearts manager/director of football said: “The one with Aberdeen, we’d have called that handbags a while ago. I still don’t see the merit of delving into something.. there were no punches thrown. It’s not like it was a melee. I just thought there was nothing in it.
“But you introduce new rules, you dissect them, you look at them and say ‘he’s squared up to him in an aggressive manner, he has pushed him’. And before you know it, you need to find three people that have done that, if you look closely enough. I really don’t know why we are seeking these things.
“And the other one was just an absolute nonsense. An absolute nonsense.”