Everton are reportedly eyeing up a move for Stoke City defender Harry Souttar as new manager Rafael Benitez looks to freshen up his backline.
According to reports, assistant manager Duncan Ferguson has scouted the highly-rated 22-year-old ahead of a potential move.
The report states that Souttar has been identified as a potential replacement for Yerry Mina after the Colombian centre-back expressed his desire to leave Goodison Park next summer.
It’s believed that Mina has his heart set on a move to Serie A with both Inter and Fiorentina keen to secure his services, while Souttar is continuing to impress in the Championship.
After departing boyhood club Dundee United to join Stoke back in September 2016, the youngster has enjoyed multiple loan spells away from the Bet365 Stadium.
A 12-month stay at Fleetwood Town during 2019/20 proved to be the turning point in Souttar’s career to date, though, and his eye-catching performances at Highbury Stadium were enough to secure a place in Michael O’Neill’s first-team plans.
“We drip-fed him in using the cup games to begin with and he found his way into the starting XI,” said O’Neill. “I said to him that he just has to keep up the levels he’s been doing. Sometimes young players drop off a little bit. He can’t allow that to happen.
“He’s a player blessed with great natural attributes. Obviously his height, but also, he’s got good game intelligence, and he’s a great user of the ball as well. That’s something which I think will set him apart from the other defenders in this league,” he concluded.
Souttar made 38 league starts for the Potters last term as he found his feet at the heart of defence and has continued his good form into the current campaign, making ten Championship outings as Stoke sit fourth in the second-tier table.
As a result, Everton’s director of football, Marcel Brands, must sanction a move for the Australian starlet if Mina departs for Italian football.
Benitez would surely relish the opportunity to work with such a talented young player, providing the Merseyside outfit with a solid defensive foundation for many years to come. After all, the Spanish coach has already been keen to blood young players in his team this season.
Jarrad Branthwaite, Anthony Gordon and Lewis Dobbin have all become more regular parts of the furniture this season. Souttar must join that talented crop coming through at Goodison Park.