Dundee United boss Mixu Paatelainen faces a fight on his hands if he wants to keep teenage prospect John Souttar at Tannadice.
The versatile 19-year-old has been the subject of a bid from Hearts – believed to have been over £100,000 – but United have rejected the offer.
Robbie Nielsen’s men are set to return to the negotiating table however, and the Terrors’ hands are slightly tied with Souttar’s contract reaching an end this coming summer.
Souttar has been a near ever-present for United this season, featuring 21 times as the club battle to avoid relegation from the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Since becoming the club’s youngest ever player when making his debut aged just 16 years and 99 days Souttar has racked up over 70 appearances for the orange half of Dundee.
Comfortable in defence or midfield, the teenager has been a shining light in an otherwise troubled campaign for Mixu Paatelainen’s side.
Celtic are also rumoured to be scouting the Scotland U21 international, and interest from England has also been mooted.
Earlier this month Paatelainen expressed hope for the club and Souttar to agree on a new contract, but no such accord has yet been made.
Speaking at the turn of the year, the Finnish boss said: “The contract was on the table for a long period, then nothing happened from the other side so it was taken off the table.”
“Talks are ongoing and the feeling from both parties is that John stays here.”
Fast forward three weeks and no contract has been signed as attention intensifies from Hearts.
Having been a first-team regular for much of the campaign, Souttar has been named substitute for four of United’s last five matches, increasing speculation of a move away from Tannadice.
If the 19-year-old features this weekend, he’ll be looking to help United to a second-successive league win when they head to Partick Thistle.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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