John Souttar looks like he could be on his way to the Championship in January, with second tier clubs reportedly queuing up to land him in the winter window.
We’ve taken a deeper look at the Reds’ interest in the 25-year-old to examine whether it’s a move they should pursue…
Is it a good potential move?
From a financial perspective, now looks to be a good time to swoop for Souttar as though there is a fair bit of competition his contract expires in the summer, which should knock a fair bit off his transfer fee.
It’s understood that Hearts would want at least £500,000, which is good value but I’m not convinced this is really where Steve Cooper should be looking to strengthen in January.
Since returning from a difficult few years sidelined with injury, Souttar has proven himself a quality defender at Hearts and most recently with the Scotland national team.
He’s solid defensively and an asset aerially but you’ve got to question whether it’s an area of Cooper’s squad that needs reinforcement.
Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna, and Tobias Figueiredo have formed a solid back three under the Welsh coach.
Loic Mbe Soh is set to return from his thigh injury soon while Rodrigo Ely should hopefully be ready to make his debut soon as well.
There is also 21-year-old duo Baba Fernandes and Riley Harbottle, who featured earlier in the season and can be used as cover.
Cooper is likely to have money to spend in January but there are other areas that need to be bolstered first.
Would he start?
It depends how Forest line up.
For the most part, it’s been a back three under Cooper and there’s an argument to be made that Souttar would start over Figueiredo in that sort of system.
The Reds had success in a 4-2-3-1 against Preston North End recently, however, and you feel Worrall and McKenna have done enough this term to remain first choice if that’s how they line up.
That said, Souttar did get the nod over McKenna for Scotland during the recent international break, which may indicate he’d rise above the 25-year-old in the pecking order at the City Ground too.
Have Nottingham Forest ever won an away game at each of these 20 stadiums?
What does he offer?
The Scottish centre-back is not quite as physically imposing as his brother, Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, but he is similar in that he offers quality both with and without the ball.
The 25-year-old reads the game really well, as his 2.2 interceptions and 1.4 blocks per game for Hearts – the most of any player in the squad as per Whoscored – indicate.
While he’s not massive for a centre-back, Souttar is a useful asset in the air and can be a weapon in the opposition box at set pieces.
The Hearts defender is a capable passer of the ball while his marauding runs out from the back would suit the back three that Cooper favours.