Steven Naismith wants Beni Baningime to be a "big part" of Heart of Midlothian.

The midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season. Hearts made a contract offer to the 25-year-old earlier this season as they look to ensure the player stays at the club.

Baningime has demonstrated his importance to the team since returning from injury. He started nine league games in a row, with Hearts winning seven, prior to missing the two fixtures before the international break due to fatigue.

Naismith explained why he hopes the player remains at the club beyond his current deal.

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"Beni, for me, has got to be a big part of this club," he told Hearts Standard. "His quality is good, his personality is infectious but he is someone who will have aspirations. He’s played in the Premier League, he knows what it is like. For him to think ‘Hearts is my limit’, I would be disappointed with that. I think he would lack hunger.

"With all the players when I talk about honesty, I will give them my honest opinion of how I see them here but where they can go. For players, especially when you have been injured, it can be easy [to think] ‘that move is on the table’, I’ll just go there'. I've seen it myself with players, they make that move and six months later they are going ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’. Yeah, they might make a wee bit more money. Money is a massive part of it for players because some of it can be life-changing, it can be what you are going to do when you are finished and all that but it isn’t always better just to move.

"For me, it is picking the right time to move, signing new deals, for understanding what you have got. For a lot of players here that will become a point, whether you are offering them a new contract because a lot of players here are young and have aspirations to go as high as they can. It’s about picking the right choice.

"We as a club can’t be dismissive of it or negative of it. You’ve just got to offer them an opportunity and say ‘listen I think this is still better for you’ and when the time is right not be difficult and awkward, drive a good deal because it is a good business but don’t sour the taste of what you have had for any tiny wee advantage because players talk. Someone might go onto a bigger club and a young player might get told ‘go there, brilliant environment’.

"It’s one big thing and you’ve got to get it all right."

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Naismith views Baningime as a "top player" and has been delighted to see him acclimatise so well to Scottish football having first encountered the 25-year-old when they were both at Everton and Baningime was a promising young talent.

"I took a couple of coaching sessions and he was in the academy [group] I took the sessions with so I’ve known what he is like from back then," Naismith said.

"Pushing him towards the club at the time, I was confident he would come up here and do really well. The biggest doubt I had was ‘will he get caught on the ball' because he wants to take a touch. That’s a strength of his game, he is calm. I was thinking ‘but in Scotland is he going to be good enough to manoeuvre that?’. He did. If anything he takes his touch and reels them in and that’s what gets him away. He’s got that calmness."

Naismith explained before the break that Baningime had to be taken out of the team to be rested. He had constantly played 90 minutes for around two months in an important and demanding role at the base of the midfield and wasn't risked against Livingston on the surface.

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The Hearts head coach also shot down the view that the midfielder wasn't ready to start in the Conference League qualifier against Rosenborg.

"Beni is a top player," he said. "He is someone who unfortunately had a bad injury but he’s now getting over that. For me as a manager or old pro who has had those injuries, giving him that understanding, same with Craig Halkett, you have that burst when you are back in ‘this is brilliant’. You are hitting a low, that’s coming so expect it but don’t get too low. Understand you need to go through it so bear with it. Beni’s had to go through that.

"Obviously Rosenborg away he’s criticised, we got criticised for playing him. Do you think he’s just come off the training pitch and we’ve put him in? He had a full pre-season, played in every pre-season game. It blows my mind that people think we’re that daft."