Aston Villa have been handed a potential blow in their bid to bring Harry Souttar to Villa Park in the January transfer window.
That’s according to Alan Nixon’s report for The Sun, with the journalist claiming that Everton are ready to step up their interest in the Stoke City centre-back after watching him in action for the Potters last week.
Further reports have revealed that both Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur are also keeping a close eye on the situation of the defender ahead of the winter market, however, it would now appear that the Toffees are leading the race for the 23-year-old.
While it is undeniable that Dean Smith already possesses rather impressive depth in the heart of his defence, with all four of Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, Kortney Hause and Axel Tuanzebe being incredibly strong options for the 50-year-old to be able to call upon, Tuanzebe’s likely return to Manchester United following the completion of his loan spell at Villa Park means that Johan Lange is correct to be planning ahead for the position.
And, considering just how impressive Souttar has been for Stoke so far this season, making a move for the defender in January, as well as before Everton manage to secure a deal for the youngster, would appear to be a very wise move by the Aston Villa director of football.
Indeed, over his 13 Championship appearances, the £3.6m-rated man has helped his side keep three clean sheets, in addition to making an average of 1.9 interceptions, two tackles, 5.8 clearances and winning a whopping 7.2 duels per game.
These returns have seen the player who Joey Barton dubbed “exemplary” average a SofaScore match rating of 7.19, ranking him as Michael O’Neill’s third-best performer in the second tier of English football.
As such, it would very much appear as if the £5.2k-per-week Souttar boasts the ability to make an immediate impact within the Aston Villa first team, as well as being a player who will only improve with time and experience of playing at a higher level.
So, it would indeed appear a wise move for Lange to do all he can to beat the Toffees to the 23-year-old’s signing, or else Villa could find themselves lining up against the Australia international in the second half of the season.