STEVEN NAISMITH revelled in the nickname ‘Kid Goals’ at Kilmarnock – and scored with his first touch of the ball at international level, as a 19-year-old for Scotland Under-21s against Iceland in March 2006.
But it’s his willingness to work which endeared him to Glasgow Rangers fans and his old Ibrox team-mate Nikica Jelavic – and has alerted Everton to his possible availability.
Jelavic rates the 25-year-old as the best attacking partner he has had so far in his career, and if David Moyes can lure him to Goodison it could prove to be one of his many shrewd budget deals.
Naismith would appear to tick all the boxes of a fundamental Moyes-type player. Industrious, flexible and with a good attitude, the Irvine-born player is said to be disciplined and capable of following coaching instructions rigorously.
And with Moyes seeking a forward this summer who can play ‘in the hole’ behind Jelavic, the compelling answer could well be a player who has reluctantly turned his back on Glasgow.
Naismith does not just fit the bill in terms of his personal ability. For a cash-strapped club like the Toffees, the potential to sign a player valued at £6m before Rangers’ liquidation seems too good to resist.
Of course, it might not be so straight forward. While Naismith announced on Sunday that he would exercise his right not to transfer to Charles Green’s Sevco company, which bought the assets and business of Rangers for £5.5million, the former Sheffield United director insists he will take legal action against wantaway players and clubs who sign them.
Speculation North of the border suggests Green could even try to withhold the registration papers of Naismith, and his fellow contract rebels, although the ECHO understands such a move would be doomed to failure based on precedents before the Scottish Football Association and UEFA.
Even if Green did managed to prevent Naismith becoming a free agent, a clause inserted in his contract recently means a £2m bid would secure his services.
Naismith’s precision in front of goal is more than matched by his ability to create, another quality Everton rate as a priority – with their chances of doing a permanent deal for Steven Pienaar remaining uncertain.
One Scottish football writer, who has watched Naismith develop from his early days at Kilmarnock to hero status at Ibrox, said: “He will score goals of course, but it’s his ability to deliver a killer pass and open up defences which is wonderful.
“He’s got great anticipation and movement. You only need to look at his goals for Scotland against Lithuania and Spain to see how intelligent his movement is. He is always thinking a few passes ahead, and a lot of defenders just can’t live with him.
“If Everton can get him, he would go down as another of Moyes’ brilliant bargains. Definitely a case of Scottish football’s loss being Goodison’s gain.”
Certainly, Ally McCoist would be sad to see Naismith go, a player he has repeatedly spoken of in glowing terms after the attacker suffered serious knee injuries in Glasgow.
“I know the type of boy he is. He is totally committed and will get all of the support he requires from the staff here and he will do all he can to get himself fit,” McCoist said last year.
“He has great resilience about him. He is very focused and single-minded.
“Having suffered bad injuries myself it's not going to be easy going into the gym every morning and seeing the rest of your team-mates and pals going onto the training field to do their work.
“That is something you have to overcome.
“You need strength of character and resilience to do that and Steven has the qualities in abundance.”