In-demand Hearts defender John Souttar would prefer to join a Championship club with a strong chance of getting promoted to the Premier League, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.
With his contract set to expire in the summer, a host of clubs are reportedly keen on the 25-year-old, including Scottish duo Celtic and Rangers, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United, and Stoke City.
However, though Souttar is understood to be open to staying in Scotland, it seems the clubs south of the border hold an advantage.
As per the Edinburgh Evening News, Championship clubs with a strong chance of getting promoted to the Premier League hold the most appeal for the centre-back.
Blackburn and Stoke have been tipped as frontrunners, though Rangers, United, and Boro are all thought to still be in the running.
The report claims the defender will make a final decision once all the formal offers have been made but if Souttar opts to sign a pre-contract, Hearts could decide to cash in on him this month to avoid losing him for nothing.
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It’s clear why there is so much interest in Souttar. The 25-year-old has caught the eye this season, helping Hearts climb to third in the cinch Premiership and impressing on the international stage with Scotland.
His contract situation means he’ll be available cheaply and potentially cost no transfer fee at all.
It seems Championship club’s battling for promotion stand the best chance of landing him, which is a clear setback for Celtic and Rangers.
That may also mean that Blackburn are best set to land him, given they’re second in the table and look the most likely of the clubs keen to secure promotion at this time.