Hearts: Levein hails new three-year deal for Sam Nicholson

Sam Nicholson has penned a new three-year deal with Hearts, and director of football Craig Levein reckons he will be their biggest signing of the summer.

The 19-year-old winger made 26 appearances last season, scoring two goals, but his contract expired at the end of the campaign.

"We'll make a lot of signings over the summer, and I'm expecting seven or eight players to come in," said Levein.

"But I doubt if any of those will be as significant as Sam re-signing."

Hearts will play in the Scottish Championship next season after suffering relegation last term.

They started the 2013-14 campaign with a 15-point deduction for entering administration, but officially exited administration following the takeover by businesswoman Ann Budge.

He's got a willingness to help his team-mates and that is very valuable. From his debut he really lit the place up

Hearts direcotor of football Craig Levein on Sam Nicholson

And Levein, who was brought back to the club by Budge as Robbie Neilson was named their new head coach, believes the Nicholson deal is a clear statement of intent from the Tynecastle outfit.

"He's very much one of our, and Scotland's, brightest young talents," added the former national team manager.

"It confirms to the Hearts support and everybody out there that we're serious about developing young players.

"He showed great maturity last season, for someone so young. Once he got his chance in the first team, what impressed me almost as much as his ability was his work-rate and his knowledge of the position that he played in.

"He's got a willingness to help his team-mates and that is very valuable. From his debut he really lit the place up."

Hearts have already been working to bolster their squad for the Championship campaign, with Edinburgh rivals Hibs and Rangers also in the same division.

The Tynecastle side have signed striker James Keatings from Hamilton and former Dundee United midfielder Morgaro Gomis.