Former Aston Villa full-back Alan Hutton believes Stoke City centre-back Harry Souttar ‘ticks all the boxes’ to become a shrewd signing for his old club, speaking in an interview with Football Insider.
Villa are just one of three Premier League sides who have been linked with the 22-year-old in recent weeks, with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur also reported to be monitoring his services ahead of a potential January move.
The centre-back has been a shining star at the bet365 Stadium since the beginning of the 2020/21 campaign despite the Potters’ mediocre finish last term, impressing alongside former teammate Nathan Collins in defence.
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Despite the latter’s departure in a £12m deal to Burnley in the summer, the Australian international has thrived alongside summer signings Ben Wilmot and Leo Ostigard in a back three this term, helping his side concede just 11 goals in 11 league matches and keep four clean sheets in the process.
This has helped Michael O’Neill’s side to climb up to fourth in the Championship table, even managing to stay solid against West Bromwich Albion who had the likes of Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant and Jordan Hugill at their disposal for their clash before the international break.
Souttar has recently dismissed recent stories linking him to other clubs as ‘paper talk’ in an attempt to focus on the Potters’ promotion push – but links to the Premier League are unlikely to cease unless he suffers a severe loss in form.
One of the sides reportedly interested in a move are Aston Villa – and despite the presence of England international Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Kortney Hause and Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe at their disposal – Alan Hutton believes the 22-year-old would be a good signing for Dean Smith’s men.
He said to Football Insider: “I think when you look at the boys who are there, they’re all good in the air. I’ve worked with them, I know they can be physical but they like playing with the ball at their feet as well.
“I think it’s very good to have those different styles of footballers within your armoury. It gives you the option if you want.
“If somebody’s injured, you want to play four at the back, three at the back or something may happen, you’ve got room to manoeuvre.
“I think that was Dean Smith’s plan moving forward. The starting XI was very good but they needed to bolster the squad.
“I think that’s the situation that they’re in at the moment. He obviously ticks all the boxes.
“He’s very physical, he’s there to win the ball and it’s good to have someone like that in your backline.”
Axel Tuanzebe’s loan at Villa Park expires at the end of the season, so it would make sense to recruit another centre-back in January or next summer to fill that gap if manager Dean Smith wants to persist with three in central defence.
Not only would Souttar be a physical presence at the back, but there’s also plenty of room for him to develop at 22 and the fact Michael O’Neill has switched up the system at the bet365 Stadium should help him to adapt to life in the West Midlands.
The only real drawbacks of this potential deal are the fact he doesn’t have any experience in the Premier League yet and he’s likely to be expensive, having only signed a new long-term deal in Staffordshire back in February.
Addressing the former though, he’s only likely to get better with more experience in the top flight and after playing at the Olympic games in the summer, arguably performing on the biggest stage, this will be a huge benefit if and when he makes the step up to the top flight.
He has just as much chance of starting for Aston Villa as he would at Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, so this could be a potentially good move for him and Villa’s formation means he’s always likely to get a chance to shine even if he doesn’t start every week.