Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has warned Scottish Premiership rivals Rangers and Celtic that it will take a ‘huge bid’ to lure John Souttar away from Tynecastle in the January transfer window, speaking to Sky Sports.
What constitutes a ‘huge bid’ for a player who will be out of contract next summer is anyone’s guess.
Neilson, understandably, was reluctant to slap a price-tag on Souttar’s head when pressed on the Scotland international’s market value.
But it’s safe to assume that reports suggesting that the former Dundee United ace may be available for as little as £500,000 in the New Year are slightly wide of the mark with Hearts making it clear that one of the country’s most in-form players will not be leaving on the cheap.
Then again, unless a new deal can be agreed, there is very little Hearts could do to stop Souttar signing a pre-contract agreement with Celtic or Rangers when the transfer window opens (Scottish Sun).
Will Rangers or Celtic sign John Souttar?
“We’re in negotiations (over a new contract). Obviously there’s interest because he’s come back in really good form, really good fitness. From our perspective, he’s here until the end of the season,” said the bullish Neilson.
“If we get a bid that we can’t refuse, he’ll be here until the end of the season. Hopefully, in that time, we can negotiate a new contract.
“We put forward a really, really good (contract) offer. If he does decide it’s time to move on, it will take a huge bid in January for that to happen.
“John, for us, is a key player. John will hopefully help us finish as high as possible in the league. From my perspective, I’ll be looking to keep him here for as long as I can.”
Souttar, who scored the winner against Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic in July’s Premiership opener, has also been linked with a host of clubs from below the border.
Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers and a Stoke City side who already employ his younger brother Harry are all understood to be interested, via The Mail.
New Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst, meanwhile, may be forced into the market for a new central defender with Leon Balogun and Connor Goldson also free-agents in 2022.