Despite Rangers pre-contract links, Craig Levein claims he doesn't need to offer Jamie Walker new deal

Craig Levein Director of Football at Hearts looks on prior to the Scottish Cup fifth round match between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian at Tynecastle Stadium on February 12, 2017 in...

Rangers target Jamie Walker can leave Hearts for free next summer.

Jamie Walker of Hearts scores his goal from the penalty spot  during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Hearts and Celtic on August 7, 2016 in Glasgow, Edinburgh.

Hearts manager Craig Levein has told The Scottish Sun that he doesn't feel the need to offer a new contract to Jamie Walker, despite continued speculation over his future.

Walker, 24, has come up through the ranks with Hearts, and enjoyed his best season for the club so far last term, scoring 15 goals in all competitions.

However, what followed was a summer of speculation, as Walker rejected a new contract to stay with Hearts, and seemed to be signalling his intention to leave Tynecastle.

Jamie Walker of Hearts in action during the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round: Second Leg between Hearts Football Club and Birkirkara at Tynecastle Stadium on July 21, 2016 in...

Walker's contract runs out at the end of the season, and Rangers sensed a bargain – but failed with a host of moves to sign Walker over the summer, leaving the winger to see out 2017 with Hearts.

Walker scored the winning goal in Saturday's 2-1 victory over Ross County, and whilst his future still appears to lie away from Edinburgh, he is giving his best for Hearts right now.

In fact, The Scottish Sun recently reported that Rangers are planning to offer Walker a pre-contract agreement in January, which would see the winger join Rangers on a free transfer next summer.

Hearts have just over two months to try and prevent that move by tying Walker down to a new deal, but Rangers may have been given even more hope of sealing Walker's signature.

Craig Levein Director of Football at Hearts looks on prior to the Scottish Cup fifth round match between Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian at Tynecastle Stadium on February 12, 2017 in...

Hearts boss Craig Levein has told The Scottish Sun that he is impressed with Walker's performances and work rate of late, but he doesn't feel the need to offer him a new contract right now – and it's fair to say that, the longer he waits, the more hope Rangers will gain.

“It’s been difficult for Jamie with all the things going on around him and I understand and appreciate that,” said Levein. “But once the window closed there was a change to his mindset and that has helped him. He’s done everything I’ve asked of him. His numbers that we get from the GPS stuff are excellent – as good as they’ve ever been. I just want him to keep that going.”

“I can’t say anything else but good things about him since I’ve taken over. I’ve not even approached [his contract situation], though. Right now I’m focusing on making sure we’re resilient and hard to beat, and from there that we can pick up points and progress up the league. Everything else is secondary. I don’t feel the need to do anything on that front now. Jamie’s in a good place and as long as he stays in that good place I’m happy just to see what happens,” he added.

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