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Middlesbrough join Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers in transfer chase for 25-year-old

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Championship side Middlesbrough have joined Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers in pursuit of Heart of Midlothian centre-back John Souttar, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.

The latter two’s interest in the 25-year-old was reported by the Mail on Sunday (via Daily Record) last month, with his contract at Tynecastle Park at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

As per the Edinburgh Evening News report this morning, officials at the Scottish Premiership club are keen on tying Souttar down to a new contract to prevent him leaving the club for free next summer, though talks have failed to progress since they opened contract talks a number of weeks ago.

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With his current deal entering its final months, the English second-tier trio will be able to negotiate a pre-contract agreement for the 25-year-old’s services when January comes around, potentially sparking a war in the winter window for his services.

Younger brother Harry currently plies his trade with Stoke, potentially putting the Potters in pole position for his signature with the Australian international enjoying a fruitful spell in Staffordshire thus far.

However, this morning’s report reveals that Boro have been keeping tabs on the Hearts centre-back for some time under Chris Wilder’s predecessor Neil Warnock, although it’s currently unknown whether this managerial change at the Riverside Stadium has affected their stance on persuading him to head south of the border.

He is currently on duty with the Scotland national team after re-establishing himself as a key figure under Robbie Neilson this term, recovering from multiple long-term injuries over the years and making 11 Scottish top-tier appearances so far this term.

The Verdict:

This would be a good signing for Boro who need to have a centre-back at the top of their transfer to-do list if they want to play a back three permanently under Wilder, but will be wary of his injury concerns over the years.

Although agreeing personal terms could be a problem with several sides interested in his services and able to make a direct approach to the 24-year-old when the next calendar year comes around, his medical could eventually prove to be the big stumbling block, though his recall to the Scotland national team is a ringing endorsement of how far he’s come in overcoming previous setbacks.

At just 25 too, there’s plenty of time for him to improve and you could easily see the likes of him and Dael Fry becoming key figures at the back in Boro’s quest to get back to the Premier League, a mission that will be realistic if they can retain consistency.

Another drawback of this signing, other than his injury record, is the fact he doesn’t have any Championship experience under his belt. But the same could be said for other players who have come from elsewhere and gone on to thrive in the second tier.

Officials at the Riverside may need to move quickly to secure this signing though, especially with Souttar’s sibling potentially out for the long-term and Stoke possibly wanting to negotiate a cut-price deal with Hearts to bring in a solid replacement in John.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Middlesbrough join Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers in transfer chase for 25-year-old

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