Ex-Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny has backed Stoke City centre-back Harry Souttar to follow in the footsteps of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and make the step up from the Championship to the Premier League, speaking to Football Insider.
The Australian international has been the subject of widespread interest since the summer, with Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur all reported to be monitoring the 23-year-old’s situation at the bet365 Stadium.
The latter two are said to have scouted the Australian international already this year, seeing him impress in a back three alongside Ben Wilmot and Leo Ostigard for the Potters and establish himself as the club’s brightest young prospect after seeing Nathan Collins leave in a £12m deal to Burnley in the previous transfer window.
Quiz: Have each of these 24 ex-Stoke City academy players ever played in the Premier League?
Souttar only signed a new contract in Staffordshire back in February to keep him at the club for the ‘long term’, maximising his value amid interest from the Premier League trio.
As per Fichajes.net, the Toffees are willing to spend £24m on the 23-year-old in a bid to fend off competitors and bolster their defence, with Rafa Benitez’s side conceding five at Goodison Park to Watford in their last match.
Former Blades goalkeeper has backed Souttar to make this step up in an interview with Football Insider – and believes he will only get better with top-tier experience under his belt.
He said: “He is an absolute giant and he has great potential.
“Stoke are doing well this season and he is playing really well. It’s the perfect place to make a name for yourself, the Championship.
“He’s a great age and playing alongside better players week in, week out in the Premier League will make him even better.
“He could be someone who comes through and ends up making a real impression.
“We’ve seen the likes of Maguire and Stones come from the Championship and end up playing for top clubs as well as the national team.
“I don’t see why Souttar couldn’t follow the same path at somewhere like Tottenham and be the next Maguire.”
Only just turning 23 last month, there’s still plenty of time for Souttar to improve further and as one of Stoke’s standout defenders, he will do his chances of going to the Premier League not harm if he can remain consistent in that backline.
He will be desperate to earn his place in the top flight by getting promoted with the Potters after three seasons of disappointment, a possibility that can’t be ruled out even amid their recent form, but he will need to avoid slipping into the mediocrity the whole club found itself in for the previous few campaigns before their revival in the summer.
Playing both in a back four and a back five at the bet365 Stadium, this adaptability is another weapon in his armoury to utilise, something interested clubs will bear in mind when coming to the negotiating table.
This could mean an even better deal for Michael O’Neill’s side who acted quickly to tie him down to a long-term deal, a shrewd bit of business that could be vital for the financial health of the club amid the Covid-19 pandemic and may allow them to re-invest a hefty amount of this fee if they sell the Australian international with Collins’ departure also generating a sizeable amount of revenue.
It’s a win-win for the Potters if interested sides come in – and this glowing reference by Kenny will do Stoke no harm at all.