EXCLUSIVE: Rangers, Sheff Utd keen as wage demands force Stoke to ditch centre-back move

Date published: Thursday 6th January 2022 12:11 - TEAMtalk staff

John Souttar, Liam Boyce Hearts July 2021

Stoke City have backed away from the deal to sign Scotland defender John Souttar due to wage and agent demands, leaving other clubs to make their moves, TEAMtalk understands.

The Potters had emerged as favourites to land the highly-rated 25-year-old and held talks with the player, who is out-of-contract with Hearts at the end of the current Scottish Premiership campaign.

Stoke had made the move for Souttar after his brother Harry was ruled out with a long-term knee injury, and they were confident of landing him this month.

Potters chief Michael O’Neill believed Souttar would be an ideal addition. However, they have now decided to walk away after a change in wage demands in recent days. Stoke have therefore decided to move onto other targets.

It is believed the interest of rival clubs has seen Souttar and his representatives able to demand a higher price.

Scottish champions Rangers are keen. However, with Stoke backing away from talks – we understand that Sheffield United are in pole position.

We understand the Blades want to strike a pre-contract agreement and then look to agree a deal with Hearts to sign the player this month.

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Rangers dismiss lowly Barisic bid

Meanwhile, Rangers have reportedly thrown out a low-ball £2million offer from English Premier League side Watford for defender Borna Barisic.

The top-flight strugglers are looking to add a left-back this month. They have also been linked with Hibernian star Josh Doig. The report in the Daily Record claims that Claudio Ranieri’s men made an official offer of around £2m for Barisic.

Borna Barisic Rangers

However, that is well short of the £5m valuation Rangers have placed on one of their top players. The report also adds that the Hornets failed when they offered an extra £1.5m in bonuses.

The sale of Nathan Patterson to Everton for a fee of up to £16m has eased any financial pressure on the Glasgow club to sell. Indeed, Giovanni van Bronckhorst has already been told he can reinvest some of that fee to bolster his squad.

With that being the case, the Record adds that Watford’s chase for Barisic is now over.

They are now expected to look elsewhere for a new left-back. The position is a need, with former England man Danny Rose so far failing to impress.

READ MORE: Benitez influence revealed, as Everton complete second deal in quick succession


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