Chase to sign John Souttar nears a climax with Hearts defender set to sign pre-contract
Hearts defender John Souttar is set to sign a pre-contract with a new club next month.
Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers are among the favourites to capture the 25-year-old Scotland internationalist. Several other clubs in the English Championship are also pursuing his signature, including Middlesbrough.
Souttar has decided his future lies away from Tynecastle Park despite an offer to extend his Hearts contract, which expires at the end of the season. He is due to hold talks with interested parties in person with the Scottish Premiership on a three-week winter break.
Tynecastle officials want Souttar to stay beyond the end of the current campaign but the player is now destined to continue his career elsewhere. Blackburn, Stoke and Middlesbrough are all chasing promotion to the Premier League.
The Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray and head of recruitment John Park both know the Scottish market well having worked together at Hibs and Celtic.
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Stoke manager Michael O’Neill is also well versed on players here, while Middlesbrough’s Chris Wilder has frequently signed Scottish players during his career.
All three clubs could offer lucrative deals to sign Souttar on a pre-contract for next season. That would then leave Hearts with the dilemma of whether to try and sell him in January or lose him for nothing in the summer. Rangers and Celtic have also been credited with an interest.
Souttar cost the Edinburgh club £120,000 from Dundee United in 2016 and developed into a major asset despite suffering three Achilles ruptures during his time in Gorgie. He recovered from the most recent one in April this year before earning a Scotland recall last month.