Aston Villa told Hearts defender is not for sale

According to reports in the Daily Record, Aston Villa have been told to forget about making a January move for Hearts defender John Souttar.

Who?

Despite only turning 20 last month, Souttar has already made more than 100 senior appearances for Dundee United and current club, Hearts, who he joined on Deadline Day back at the beginning of February.

The centre-back, who has also been deployed in central midfield on occasions, has been in impressive form for the Scottish Premiership outfit this term, making 12 appearances in all competitions – including two outings in their Europa League qualifying ties.

What’s the word, then?

According to the Daily Record, the highly-rated youngster is attracting interest from new Villa boss Steve Bruce as he looks to lead his side up the Championship table.

However, Hearts manager Robbie Neilson says the stopper is going nowhere and has told the Scotland Under-21 international to take a leaf out of teammate Callum Paterson’s book, by staying and continuing to learn his trade with the Scottish top-flight side before moving on. Nelson said…

“We see his future at Hearts. John understands he still has another couple of years to do here, to mature, get more physical and learn as a defender.

“You can see the progression he’s made since coming to Hearts but, even with that, he can still move up a few steps before he is ready to move down south.

“It would be jumping the gun to talk about him leaving now. We have no interest in selling him and he has no interest in leaving.”

Do Aston Villa need a centre-back?

Well, not particularly no. Despite their disappointing start to the campaign, which sees them lying 16th in the Championship standings, they have conceded just 14 goals in their 14 league matches to date.

While it isn’t the best record at the back, it certainly isn’t the worst either. Norwich, who are in fourth, have conceded five more.

In addition, the Midlands club brought in Tommy Elphick and James Chester during the summer from Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion respectively, while they can also call on Nathan Baker and Micah Richards to fill in too.

Souttar could be viewed as a long-term addition by Bruce, but a move seems more likely to happen next summer rather than during the January transfer window.