KENNY JACKETT paid tribute to Kal Naismith as he departed Fratton Park.
And the Pompey boss has lifted the lid on the contract discussions which failed to reach a conclusion with the League Two title-winning hero.
Naismith’s three-year stay with the Blues came to a close following the release of the club’s retained list on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old made 31 appearances under Jackett this term, but will be remembered for his seminal role in delivering the fourth-tier crown to PO4.
Naismith’s seven goals and seven assists in his final 11 games proved critical in helping his side to the silverware.
Jackett explained talks had taken place with the Scot for the past year without success.
But the Blues manager had only words of praise for Naismith’s efforts.
‘We’ve been talking to Kal since before I came in,’ said Jackett.
‘It’s not something where there’s been no dialogue.
‘There’s been an open dialogue with myself, the club and Kal.
‘He forced his way back into the side and gave us balance at the end of the season.
‘We lacked balance without a natural player out that side.
‘Unfortunately, we couldn’t come to an agreement – but that hasn’t happened with many players.
‘It’s good they’ve committed, but unfortunately we couldn’t come to that agreement with Kal.
‘He played a big part in winning the title in League Two, played quite a high number of games this season and contributed to us finishing eighth this season, which is no small feat.
‘We do think a lot of him here, though, in terms of him as a lad.’
Jackett was understanding to Naismith’s situation and the reasons behind why the two parties could not agree new terms.
With his contract coming to a close, the Pompey boss felt the player would’ve been aware of his earning potential.
But he praised Naismith’s professionalism and the honesty of the dialogue between player and manager.
Jackett added: ‘It’s been similar all the way through – we just haven’t been able to come to an agreement.
‘The way things work is, through an agent, clubs can give you an inclination of what you could earn elsewhere
‘When you hit a certain age you want to maximise your potential.
‘If there’s higher offers elsewhere, ultimately it’s up to you. There is a choice –it’s your choice.
‘It didn’t work out unfortunately, but he’s always been very honest with me during the course of the season. I thank him for that.
‘I understand, in terms of football, he wants to try elsewhere.
‘That does seem to be the case now, but it’s a shame we couldn’t come to an agreement.
‘I had a really clear relationship with him.
‘He’s been really honest with me about where he thinks he is and what his future holds.
‘We do wish him all the best for the future, and, above all, thank him for all he’s done for Portsmouth.’