Craig Levein believes that Nottingham Forest have missed a trick by not signing John Souttar from Hearts. The centre-back signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers earlier this week.
The 25-year-old will stay with Hearts until the end of the season. He will then sign for the Glaswegian giants where he is expected to become a first-team regular.
Souttar held talks with several English clubs. Forest and Stoke were two of them, with Sheffield United and Middlesbrough also thought to have been keen.
The Scotland international is a shrewd piece of business. He will be out of contract in the summer and will head to Ibrox on a free transfer.
Souttar has learned his trade with Hearts. He has made 151 appearances for the club and worked tirelessly to return from three serious injuries.
Levein managed Leicester during his career and the former Jam Tarts manager thinks Rangers are getting a bargain.
He told The Scottish Sun: “It’s the steal of the century.
“I don’t think anyone can blame John for making this decision given everything he’s been through.
“I completely understand his decision to take this opportunity”
Regret: Forest will watch Souttar with intrigue
The Reds did hold talks with the defender. Ultimately, he chose Rangers and the chance to play European football proved too strong.
Scott McKenna would have provided Souttar with a glowing reference of English football. He has taken to the Championship with aplomb and his Scotland teammate might have proved a decent addition.
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Souttar would have provided a risk, however. Three Achilles injuries is a worry and there’s nothing to say he won’t endure another setback.
As he prepares to head to Rangers, the Reds will continue watching Souttar with intrigue.
Time will tell whether Forest should have tried harder to sign Souttar or not.