With the MLS Primary Transfer Window opening up, silly season is in full effect. The BBC and many other outlets are reporting that Scottish attacker Steven Naismith is being linked with a move to Major League Soccer. The only outlet linking Naismith to a specific club, Sporting Kansas City, is the Scottish Sun.
It’s unclear if there is any validity to the rumor. It could simply be the fact that Sporting KC have long been linked to available forwards and that Naismith’s Scotland National Teammate Johnny Russell already plays in KC. Regardless, let’s learn a little about Naismith.
He’s a 32-year-old forward that has played in both winger positions as well as center forward. He is currently on loan from Norwich City of the English Championship to Heart of Midloathian of the Scottish Premiership. He will be out of contract in the summer, meaning he can be had on a free transfer. Free. I just heard Peter Vermes’ ears perk up.
During the 2018-19 season and league competition Naismith has scored 13 times in 24 appearances for Hearts over 2,064 minutes. That’s 0.56 goal per 90, which is quite the prolific rate, even at 32 years old. He’s also added four assists.
His ability to play center forward, where he has mostly lined up for Hearts and on the wing also makes him a nice option for Sporting KC who aren’t terribly deep at either position as of right now.
Center Forward - Krisztian Nemeth, Erik Hurtado
Right Winger - Johnny Russell, Yohan Croizet, Tyler Freeman
Left Winger - Daniel Salloi, Gerso Fernandes, Tyler Freeman
A player of Naismith’s ability could add depth at all those positions and depending on how the season is going come the summer, he could start. Especially if any injuries have been picked up. But he’d be in a position where he just played a year straight by the time summer hits, so he may be a better substitute option at least at first.
According to the Daily Record, Hearts manager Craig Levein is “desperate to secure the Scotland international on a long-term deal.”
“Steven is not a guy who is prone to knee-jerk reactions,” Levein continued. “He’ll think long and hard about what his next move is. He’s in a good place right now, he’s got himself back in the national team, he’s hugely respected at Hearts. If the national team qualify for a major tournament, I’m sure Steven will be a big part of that. I think all of these things are easier for him if he is still at Hearts, so I’m hopeful that he will stay. I think he will want to be a coach. I would suggest that when he’s a coach maybe he should go to the MLS, and finish his playing career here.”
The Daily Record caught up with Naismith as well who said that life is “fantastic” at Hearts.
“Later on in your career it is so much more about everything other than the most money and the highest level you can play at,” Naismith said later. “When you are a young player, that’s probably what drives you. As you get older, there are so many other aspects. I just want to make sure I make the right decision. However long that takes me.”
What Would Naismith Cost?
While he can sign a pre-contract agreement now and move on a free transfer in the summer, his salary per year would be anything but free. According to this report in the BBC, his wages are £50,000 per week. That’s a little over $64,000 a week US and about $3.3 million a year.
It’s possible he would take a paycut, especially with those quotes about it being about more than money. Currently, the highest paid player on Sporting KC is Felipe Gutierrez at $1.649 million a season. That makes him the highest paid player in club history. The second highest paid player right now is Naismith’s Scottish teammate Russell, who made $1.331 million in 2018. The numbers aren’t out for 2019 yet and we wouldn’t expect them until April.
If Naismith did make at or around his reportedly current $3.3 million per year that would make him the 9th highest paid player in MLS according to the 2018 numbers we have access to. If SKC, or whatever team he may land at, doesn’t have to pay a transfer fee that would make this deal more palatable. Naismith turns 33 in September, so I imagine any contract he signed would be for 18 or 30 months max. Nothing too long in case father time suddenly catches up with him.
What are you thoughts? Would you take Naismith for free this summer? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments.
Would you take Steven Naismith on a free transfer?
This poll is closed
Yes, but only at a reduced wage