Stoke City are reportedly the frontrunners in the race to sign Hearts defender John Souttar, who has been linked with Celtic, QPR, Rangers and Nottingham Forest among others.
The centre-back has turned heads with his impressive form north of the border this season, helping the newly-promoted side climb to third in the cinch Premiership at Christmas.
Souttar’s current deal is set to expire in the summer but Hearts boss Robbie Neilson has insisted that the Scotland international will not be sold unless a “huge” offer is made.
Lancashire Live has reported that the Bet365 Stadium outfit are in pole position to sign the defender, with his brother Harry already part of Michael O’Neill’s squad.
His brother’s injury has been a factor in Stoke’s stuttering form over the past few months but they remain in the play-off places as head toward the turn of the year.
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With nine days to go until the end of the month, it appears Stoke remain at the front of the race for John Souttar.
Things usually change quickly during the transfer window but starting January as the frontrunner to land an in-demand defender and solve one of your key issues is a fantastic place to be for the Potters.
The fact his brother already plays for the club has got to be a factor but so too may Nathan Collins’ recent move made to the Premier League, which will have highlighted that it can be a fantastic stepping stone to the top flight.
It may not turn out being as cheap a move as initially hoped given the competition but landing the Hearts centre-back early on in the window would be an excellent start.