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…
Premier League side Everton have joined Tottenham Hotspur in the race for Stoke City centre-back Harry Souttar, according to yesterday’s report from The Sun.
The 22-year-old, who is also a regular international for Australia, was recently watched in action by Everton coach Duncan Ferguson and is potentially viewed as a replacement for Yerry Mina at Goodison Park.
However, they aren’t the only club in the race for the commanding defender. Tottenham Hotspur have also previously had eyes on Souttar and as per Stoke-on-Trent Live, they did their own scouting on the Potters’ key man in the spring.
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He has been a part of a reasonably solid Stoke City defence so far this season alongside the likes of Leo Ostigard and Ben Wilmot, conceding at a rate of just one goal per game and playing a big part in helping the Staffordshire side vastly improve on the last three seasons of midtable mediocrity so far, claiming a vital clean sheet against promotions West Bromwich Albion on Friday night as Nick Powell grabbed a winner.
Although the length of the deal remains undisclosed, Souttar signed fresh terms with the club in February this year and would command a sizeable fee if Michael O’Neill’s side were to let him go.
But should they be willing to cash in on the 22-year-old at this time? And how much is he worth in today’s climate?
We asked three of our writers at Football League World these two important questions.
Stoke City should be looking to keep Harry Souttar at all costs. The 22-year-old is a crucial player at the bet365 Stadium and a key component of building a promotion push this season under Michael O’Neill.
Souttar has a contract running until the end of the summer of 2025 and therefore the Potters can demand a hefty fee for his signature. They should be waiting for silly money to sell him, £30 million or even more because the Premier League clubs do have that kind of disposable income and Stoke should be trying to avoid a sale.
In Souttar, Ben Wilmot, Josh Tymon and others the foundations of a push for promotion are there and in that players who could go on to be great servants for the club in top-flight. With his contract as long as it is, Stoke should only let Souttar go for silly money.
After losing one talented young centre-back in Nathan Collins to Burnley over the summer, Stoke will not be wanting to have to cash in on another.
However with the club’s latest accounts earlier in the year showing that they made an £87 million loss during the 2019-20 season, another eight-figure sale may be needed to help balance the books.
The Potters have a couple of players on the books that could potentially reach that kind of price but Souttar is definitely one of them that could depart now for big money – I do feel as though Tottenham could be a bit too big of a step up for him right now though.
Everton also have a lot of competition at centre-back so perhaps both of these clubs aren’t ideal destinations for Souttar, but he’s clearly showing himself to be top-level quality at the age of just 22.
His height is obviously a standout factor when you see him play but he’s agile for his size and is also incredibly comfortable in playing out from the back.
If I was Stoke I wouldn’t be cashing in on him this January and I’d be waiting to see where the club are in the 2022-23 season – if they’re still in the Championship then I think you’d have to sell him but if they do need some money mid-season then they should consider nothing less than £15m for the Australia international.
On the face of it, cashing in on Harry Souttar if Tottenham Hotspur or Everton came in with a sizeable offer for his services might seem tempting for the Potters.
However, given that Stoke have firmly established themselves amongst the group of sides targeting a top-six finish with their win against West Brom on Friday, they would be crazy to sell off Souttar in January.
Trying to find a replacement for someone as good as Souttar is midway through the campaign would be very challenging for the Potters. It is not a situation that they need to put themselves in and holding out until at least the summer has to be the objective for the Potters here.
Stoke did show a lot of transfer sense in the summer by cashing in on Nathan Collins and then going out and getting a quality replacement in for a fraction of the cost in the form of Ben Wilmot.
You would therefore back the Potters to have a long-term plan in place to replace Souttar eventually if someone like Tottenham or Everton do come in with an offer that they can not turn down.
Given the price that Collins was sold to Burnley for, you would have to say that Souttar has to be worth at least £15m if not a little more than that.
In terms of the winter window though, even £15 million to £20 million should not be something that tempts them into selling because they could risk blowing a major shot at promotion for the sake of that money.