Michael O’Neill makes Harry Souttar admission amid Tottenham, Everton and Aston Villa interest | OneFootball

Michael O’Neill makes Harry Souttar admission amid Tottenham, Everton and Aston Villa interest

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Football League World

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has revealed Premier League interest in centre-back Harry Souttar is a good thing because of the strong position they are in, speaking to Stoke-on-Trent Live.

The 22-year-old has reportedly been subject of interest from the likes of top-flight sides Aston Villa, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in recent weeks, after being part of a reasonably solid Stoke defence that has conceded at a rate of just one goal per game in the Championship so far this season.

This has played a huge part in the Potters’ rise up the table following three seasons of mediocrity in the second tier, with previous centre-back partner Nathan Collins leaving in a £12m deal to Burnley and defensive duo Ben Wilmot and Leo Ostigard arriving in return.

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The high-profile departure of 20-year-old Collins has allowed Souttar to take centre stage, establishing himself as a regular first-team player at the bet365 Stadium last season and adapting well to life in the Championship to say the least.

Because of his performances, he was rewarded with a new long-term contract in Staffordshire back in February and Stoke would be in a strong position at the negotiating table if bids were launched by potential Premier League suitors.

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill has spoken out about recent rumours in his pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s clash against Sheffield United, saying: “Harry has had a very strong start to the season. He’s obviously playing senior international football and appears to have established himself in the Australia national team. That will obviously generate interest.

“I think that’s a positive for us as a club. We’re in a strong position.

“We signed these young players on long-term contracts and the idea is they would become prominent players here and hopefully help us get back to the Premier League.

“They are young players and all have ambitions to play right at the top level of the game.

“I think that the fact there is that interest (is a positive), albeit during an international window the media sometimes have to create news as opposed to report it and we don’t take too much notice of that.

“Harry is very grounded, very focused on the present and that’s the role he has in our team at this minute in time.”

The Australian international has recently dismissed links with a move away as ‘paper talk’ and has reiterated his commitment to the cause at Stoke City, where promotion is now the aim after such a strong start to the 2021/22 campaign.

The Verdict:

The move to offer Harry Souttar a contract last season is a game-changer for Stoke City – and they are under no pressure to sell because of the deal he signed back in February.

They can also maximise their profit if they were willing to come to the negotiating table and sell, but amid their promotion push, it would probably be wise to keep hold of the 22-year-old for at least another season to boost their chances of returning to the Premier League.

The Potters may generate a hefty eight-figure fee by cashing in on him, but the financial benefit of gaining promotion to the top flight is even more lucrative and this is where the club may have to make a crucial judgement call if a bid comes in.

If they can identify alternative targets to pursue and believe Souttar is losing his commitment to the cause, it would probably be a good idea to sell him with the view of recruiting a few players in return.

A few additions in January could make all the difference as they look to stay in the promotion mix, so the Staffordshire side are currently in a win-win situation going into January with interest unlikely to cease in the Australian.

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