Stoke City legend Mike Pejic believes Harry Souttar will have to be tested in the Champions League soon, not to mention the Premier League.
Souttar’s stellar start to the season has attracted some elite scouts – even though he didn’t sign a new long-term contract until February and Stoke is hoping he can reach that level with them.
Pejic thinks he’s the full package and is only surprised that a major offer hasn’t arrived over the summer.
âHe has the potential to be in the top six,â he said.
âHe’s already an international player, his games for Stoke were his basic level and now he can challenge himself at the world level. Forget about a mid-table team, he has to be in the Champions League to bring him to his full potential.
âIf I had been at a Premier League club I would have offered Â£ 20million this summer because who knows what it would cost to have it now. I was delighted when the transfer window closed and he was in Stoke. “
Souttar, 22, joined Stoke at the age of 16 from Dundee United and has been loaned to Ross County and Fleetwood Town as part of his development.
But his big break came with the arrival of Michael O’Neill, who gave him his league debut 12 months ago.
He was a player of the season contender last season, but he’s stepped up again this time around after spending the summer making the World Cup and Olympics qualifiers with Australia.
Everton assistant Duncan Ferguson was spotted in the crowd at Preston last week and Spurs have had spotters at Stoke’s games as well.
Pejic, a former Everton defender himself, said: âAnyone who looks will see their potential. International football has helped him come back, even in the summer, as he put himself to the test in different situations and experiences.
âYou look at his brain to begin with and his mobility, the way he covers the ground. You can see in defensive situations that he knows how to score tight, when to change ends, knowing where the ball is, he reads the play well. And he doubles that with his possession ability.
âSometimes it can be too comfortable because he’s so far ahead in the championship. Against the three West Brom forwards he just sidelined them when he took on challenges like they weren’t there. It must be said that it was a champion’s performance.
“He can hang out in games and when it’s like that, if you’re not careful you can dive in because you can get away with it.” He needs a Salah or a Ronaldo against him to get that sharp reaction at the top. This is how you keep learning and how you keep going.
âYou have to be stretched match in, match out. There will be days when you get caught, but that’s how you learn and keep improving.
Souttar is currently traveling with Australia for the next leg of World Cup qualifying.
They play against Oman in Doha on Thursday, then return to Japan for a game next Tuesday before the center-back returns to join Stoke on an away trip to Sheffield United.
Stoke has already sold his allocation of 2,725 for Bramall Lane and now maintains a waiting list in the event of a return.