Keeping Boyd is top priority, says Smith

Rangers manager fears a fan boycott if club fail to agree new deal with striker
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The Independent Online

Walter Smith admits securing Kris Boyd on a new deal is Rangers' No 1 priority. The club's top goalscorer is one of several players out of contract at the end of the season, with Kirk Broadfoot, DaMarcus Beasley and Nacho Novo also in the final months of their current deals.

Smith confirmed talks took place between chief executive Martin Bain and Boyd's agent, Mark Donaghy, yesterday, with the Scottish champions tabling an offer they hope will keep the Premier League's record scorer at Ibrox.

Fans have already warned of a boycott should the 26-year-old be sold during the current transfer window, with former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan reportedly keen to take him to Middlesbrough, and Birmingham manager Alex McLeish also thought to be interested in a player he brought to Rangers four years ago.

"He's the one we have started with first," said Smith of the discussions to convince Boyd his future lies with Rangers. "We have quite a few players out of contract at the end of the season so we have to start trying to get those players tied up.

"Kris is the first one we have gone to and we hope we can get it sorted out. Martin spoke with Kris's agent and the club made him an offer. They have been left to think about it and that's what they are currently doing. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement. The offer has been made and Kris and his agent are off to think about it now."

With clubs in England able to offer more lucrative terms than the Scottish champions, Rangers must now hope that Boyd's emotional ties to the club will convince him to plump for an extended stay with his boyhood heroes.

"That's Kris's decision and he has to take everything into consideration," said Smith. "He's at an important part of his career, his mid-twenties, and it's a big decision he has to make. That decision rests with him. From our own point of view, we have made him an offer in the hope that he will stay with the club and we hope that's the case."

If Boyd decides his future lies elsewhere, Rangers must work out whether to sell him this month or retain his services for the title run-in and lose him for nothing in the summer.

Smith would appear to prefer the latter scenario, insisting: "We have to try to keep all our players at the present moment if we can because in the last couple of games we had two senior players on the bench and the rest were all kids. It's important for us, in this period, that we keep what we have and hopefully we will do."

Asked how important Boyd is, Smith replied: "His goals have been a huge part of Rangers' success over the last couple of seasons.

"Every team needs a goalscorer and he has been that. Nobody can complain about the number of goals he has scored for the club, it has been fantastic."

However, Smith is unaware of any offers for Pedro Mendes, after reports suggested Rangers could offload the midfielder to help fund a new deal for Boyd, with Sporting Lisbon confirming their interest in the Portuguese international.

Smith said: "So far we have had no contact, that I'm aware of, from any club. Other than what I read in the newspapers, that's the way it stands. I read in the newspapers that other clubs are interested in taking him but we have had no contact so far, so he is not leaving to go anywhere unless someone gets in contact with us or unless we agree that he will go."

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