This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Aston Villa are providing even more Premier League competition for Stoke City centre-back Harry Souttar, as per a report from Football Insider.
The Villains join Everton in pursuit of the 23-year-old centre-back, with Duncan Ferguson reportedly travelling to the Bet 365 Stadium for Stoke’s clash with West Brom last weekend to see the 6 ft 4 defender for himself.
According to StokeonTrent Live, Tottenham are also in the race for the defender who represents Australia at international level.
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Souttar, who has emerged as the most senior figure in Stoke’s backline so far this season, operates next to 21-year-old pair Ben Wilmot and Leo Ostigard, with The Potters, with only West Brom and Bournemouth conceding fewer goals than the Staffordshire club.
With Aston Villa now joining the chase for the highly-rated defender, we asked three of our writers at FLW to share their thoughts as to whether or not Aston Villa is the ideal destination…
I think out of the three clubs linked with him recently, Villa perhaps makes the most sense if they’re going to stick with a back three.
Of course things may change when Leon Bailey returns from injury and Emi Buendia becomes more of a starting figure but for now if Dean Smith is going to play that way then he definitely needs to add someone else at the back.
Alongside Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings, Souttar could be a massive asset and you wouldn’t fancy many Premier League attacks getting behind that trio with a mix of pace, height and power.
As it stands Villa Park would be a better destination ahead of Everton and Tottenham – the former have plenty of options in Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate whilst Tottenham could be a bit of a steep step up for Souttar right now.
It won’t be cheap to prize Souttar away from the Potters though – it’ll probably be an eight-figure fee for the Australia international but with the money raked in from Jack Grealish this summer they can easily afford it.
It would probably be the perfect option for him next season.
Dean Smith plays with a three at the back, so there are always likely to be injuries and suspensions that open up spaces for squad players to come in.
Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause seem to be a good trio in there, with Axel Tuanzebe available as an option off the bench.
These four options would limit Souttar’s game time in the Premier League and what he needs now more than anything is regular minutes on the field, so this season, it may not be the best option.
You could flip it and say the Australian centre-back would benefit from being eased in gently over the coming months, but that feels like him wasting a few months of his career.
Alternatively, he could be brought in early in the summer to adapt to life in the top flight with Manchester United loanee Tuanzebe going back to Old Trafford.
So it may not be the best option for him now, but he certainly has the ability to be a starter for Villa in the near future and he should wait until the end of the season to secure this potential move.
It does look as though Aston Villa could be a rather good potential destination for Souttar if he is to move on from Stoke.
We have already seen, both with the squad that came up with them a few years ago, and some of those they have signed since then, that Villa are open to giving players chances when they make the step up from the Championship to the Premier League.
As a result, Souttar ought to be confident he would get opportunities to prove himself in the top-flight if he moves to Villa Park, and he will no doubt believe that he is capable of taking those openings.
Indeed, when you look at the squad they have put together, you feel Dean Smith’s side are well on the way to becoming a competitive side in the top-flight again, who may have the potential to pose a threat to the so-called big six in years to come, making the prospect of a swift return to the Championship an unlikely one for Souttar.
This therefore, looks as though it could be an appealing move for the centre back, meaning you couldn’t really blame him for taking it, if the opportunity was to come along.