Championship sides Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers are two of several second-tier sides said to be interested in a potential move for Heart of Midlothian centre-back John Souttar, according to the Daily Mail (via Daily Record).
The 25-year-old, who is the older brother of Potters defender Harry, has been a key figure at Tynecastle since his move from Dundee United in 2016 and has made 139 competitive appearances in total for Robbie Neilson’s men despite suffering serious injuries during his time there.
Born in Aberdeen, Souttar has spent the entirety of his career in Scotland and has three international caps to his name, making his debut in 2018 but failing to establish himself as a key man in Steve Clarke’s thoughts recently.
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However, he is attracting domestic interest from the English second tier, with Michael O’Neill’s Stoke City braced for bids for sibling Harry amid interest from the likes of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.
The 25-year-old could be seen as a potential replacement for his brother after seeing the Potters operate with three at the back – and may slot in as one of three starters in central defence alongside Ben Wilmot and Leo Ostigard.
But they will face interest from the likes of Blackburn Rovers and other Championship rivals in their quest to seal a move, though his brother’s presence at the bet365 Stadium could serve O’Neill’s men well in their potential pursuit of his services.
The main worry Stoke will have with this addition is the fact he’s suffered multiple serious injuries in recent years. Two severe achilles injuries with surgery on his ankle in between must have taken a long-term toll on him and with this, it’s questionable whether he would even pass a medical.
After seeing the Staffordshire side sell Nathan Collins for £12m and remove some of their higher earners off the wage bill, it’s clear they would be able to afford the 25-year-old with his contract running out next summer.
But in the end, it will be down to Stoke’s medical team and their judgement as to whether this is a signing worth making or not. The fact they operate with three central defenders makes it vital he’s a reliable figure at the back.
For Blackburn Rovers, he would be someone with a reasonable amount of experience that could not only contribute physically, but also mentally to what is still a very young side at Ewood Park, even with the return of Bradley Johnson in the middle of the park.
He is also likely to be an affordable option for Tony Mowbray’s signing after the eight-figure fee they received for Adam Armstrong in the summer, but again, his fitness and the medical team’s verdict on him could make or break this deal.