Hearts told the contract offer that would KEEP Lawrence Shankland at Tynecastle

Hearts hitman Lawrence Shankland
Hearts hitman Lawrence Shankland -Credit:SNS Group

Ryan Stevenson has told Hearts to forget about using their £5million Euro cash injection on new signings - and use it to keep Lawrence Shankland at Tynecastle.

The Jambos are on the brink of securing third spot and guaranteed European football which will earn them a massive windfall. Steven Naismith has wasted no time in bolstering his squad for next season with the pre-contract signings of Yan Dhanda, Blair Spittal and James Penrice.

But former attacker Stevenson reckons the incoming jackpot should be used to push the boat out on a new lucrative contract for top scorer Shankland as he enters the final 12 months of his deal.

He told the Daily Record: "I've been interested to read some of the commentary in recent days about the prospect of the money helping Hearts to get closer to the Old Firm. Well I'll ask one question. How much would it cost to replace Lawrence's influence and goals?

"You could take the whole £5m and it would not get near it. In fact, you could spend £10m and maybe still not get what Lawrence gives you. So forget about who to bring in next. Concentrate on keeping the main man. To get him tied down on that long-term deal would be the biggest deal they could do this summer. If they do have to pay him a bit extra, well so what?

"Every now and again, there are players that you just need to go that extra mile for. He is the club captain, he is the talisman and I'd be happy to go to £10,000 or £12,000 per week. That'd be big for Hearts. I'd imagine there are a number of boys on £4,000-£6,000 a week, so I think if you gave him £12,000 with add-ons with scoring bonuses and appearances, that could work.

"To be honest, offer a decent wage with a £500,000 signing-on fee and that's job done. Half a million straight into your account. You are skipping all the way to the bank with that. It sounds a lot, but it's only 10 per cent of what they are going to get for group-stage qualification.

"Put it this way, you offer him £1m and you've still got £4m left over. It sounds like a heavy-duty spend, but the hole that would be left without Lawrence's goals would be impossible to replace.

"The grass is not always greener and that goes for both parties. When you get to a certain age and a certain stage, you need to realise that as a player. Lawrence has seen that from his own time when he went to Belgium and sometimes you just need to keep watering your own garden.

"I noted him admitting that, turning 29 at the beginning of next season, clubs who are looking to have a resale value on their purchases are not going to be looking at him because he's getting too old for that.

"He'll probably be looking at the situation and thinking that, if he leaves, it'll be for one contract and it might end up somewhere he doesn't like. It might not suit his family if they have to move.

"Stay at Hearts, you are settled, your family is settled, your life is settled. Whatever gets put on the Tynecastle table, it is going to be a decent offer, so why not just stay where you are loved? It is not often you see individuals stay at clubs for over five years and Lawrence would be well regarded forever if he stays."