BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, is adamant the days of English clubs snapping up Scottish talent for “a pittance” must end as he accused Wigan Athletic of attempting to capture Callum Paterson on the cheap.
The Latics have seen two separate bids for the Scotland internationalist rejected, with the most recent offer understood to be around £400,000 up front, supplemented by conditional add-ons.
Hearts are holding out for upwards of £1 million for the 21-year-old despite the gifted right-back being in the final year of his contract, and Neilson is willing to allow Paterson’s deal to run down rather than accept a derisory bid.
“Until a bid comes in that matches our valuation then he will be remaining with us,” said Neilson. “We have set a price which we believe is more than fair – not too much for a current Scotland international with a huge career ahead of him.
“But, as it has been in the past, English clubs think they can come up here and offer lower sums than they should be expected to pay. Wigan would need to substantially put their offer up, then we would have a look at it.
“The whole ethos of this club is to develop players to sell them on for a figure we believe is acceptable, at the right time. But if clubs want to come along and put an offer in that is nowhere near our valuation then they are not getting our player.
“It’s about setting a precedent, absolutely. That is what this is about. Even if a player is in the final year of his contract, we still want an acceptable price. What is the point of giving away our best players for a pittance?
“If we need to let his contract run for the final year, then so be it. The flip side of that is we will have Callum Paterson for another year – a Scotland international to help us progress in the league, then we’ll get compensation at the end of that.”
While Hearts are seeking to challenge at the summit of the Premiership, Neilson believes you can look to the Championship for the perfect example of a club playing hardball and reaping the rewards.
Falkirk have banked handsome amounts for relatively untried youngsters such as Botti Biabi and Ryan Blair, sold on first-team players Stephen Kingsley, Jay Fulton and Will Vaulks for high six-figure fees and recouped a club record sum for Conor McGrandles’ move to Norwich in 2014.
“Falkirk are a prime example of a team that has stayed strong to get maximum value for their players,” continued Neilson. “They have sold players for good money by being strong.
“The only way they [English clubs] are going to get realistic about offers is by Scottish teams being strong.”
Neilson has not ruled out the possibility of Paterson penning a new deal, but accepts that is now unlikely, acknowledging that the player is more than ready to make the move south.
“He is ready to go to England. He is physically ready, he is mentally ready,” added Neilson. “He will go down, if someone takes him, as a first team player, which is what we always want. We always say to players: when you leave here make sure you go down as a first team player, not a development player.”
Meanwhile, Neilson has confirmed he will listen to offers for out-of-favour Juanma Delgado and Juwon Oshaniwa, while he would like to add a left-sided midfielder to his squad before the closure of the transfer window next Wednesday.