Having endured a torrid 21/22 campaign, Everton manager Frank Lampard would have taken solace from a fantastic run of form in the dying embers of the campaign to stave off the threat of relegation and a promising transfer window, bolstering the proud football club ahead of a fresh slate.
According to a report from the Daily Mail earlier in December, Stoke might now be looking to cash in on a player that has seen a sizeable lift in transfer value following his efforts at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur the two leading contenders for his signature.
And last year it was reported from The Sun that the Toffees had scouted the Australian colossus, clearly etching his name into the club’s transfer wish list for a considerable amount of time now.
Souttar has only made four appearances for the Potters this term, returning in the weeks preceding the World Cup following a major injury suffered to his ACL last year.
Despite finding his feet moments before his nation’s exploits, he showed little sign of ring rust as he played a pivotal role in the triumphant qualification from a group stage holding the likes of France, Denmark and Tunisia.
As per Sofascore, the 23-year-old recorded an average rating of 6.97 in Qatar, playing every minute of the three group fixtures and the round-of-16 tie against Argentina, where the Aussies fell to defeat despite a valiant collective effort against the eventual world champions.
Souttar impressed with his physicality and presence in front of Matthew Ryan’s goal, helping to keep two clean sheets and making 1.5 tackles and 5.5 clearances per match, also displaying a passing prowess that will only further the piqued interest from potential Premier League suitors.
Speaking to BBC 5Live, pundit Pat Nevin praised the titan for his aerial ability, proclaiming he has a “magnet in his head”, and his command of the space above the heads of those around him is just another factor that hints towards a momentous career at a top-flight outfit.
He bears semblance to Liverpool’s esteemed central defender Virgil van Dijk in this regard, who signed for the Reds in a then-world record £75m deal for a defender, with the Dutch sensation a master of assurance, composure and domination in the air.
Down the Merseyside Road at Goodison Park, the Toffees can emulate the success of their detested neighbours with a swoop for Souttar, who ranks within the top 5% of defenders playing in the ‘next eight’ leagues for aerials won over the past year, as per FBref.
Parting with such a hefty fee of £25m might seem somewhat off-putting, but with the likes of Yerry Mina and Michael Keane both considered dispensable and likely to be in the twilight stage of their career with Everton, Lampard must act with swift conviction to bring a Van Dijk-esque presence to turn the club’s ship around.