Hearts ‘very close’ to new deal for defender John Souttar

first_imgCommitting John Souttar to Hearts on a new long-term contract is the next step towards stability at the club, according to manager Craig Levein.Levein is in the process of tying down several of his most important players as aims to settle his squad for the coming years.Captain Christophe Berra and defender Michael Smith have both signed new deals until 2021 and Levein hopes that Scotland cap Souttar will be the next to put pen to paper.The Hearts boss said: “I think to sustain any kind of excellence you need stability. “Brendan [Rodgers] has come in and done that at Celtic and arguably the next most successful manager in Scotland is Derek McInnes who’s been in his post longer than me.“I think it is hard to have a sustainable challenge without having stability, and that’s where we are trying to get to.“We have made some steps forward with Christophe [Berra] signing a new contract, Michael Smith signing a new contract and, I don’t want to say too much but, we are very, very close to John Souttar signing a new contract as well.“There are two or three others as well and that is solely around trying to create the stability that we are after.” Levein, who brought 18 new players to the club over the summer, said his focus was shifting towards his long-term ambitions for Hearts that would see fewer new players arrive, and the squad augmented by more young players from the academy system.He said: “This is a plan – a long-term plan – and the reason for it is the stop this constant changeover of managers, because every time you change it costs you money. Then that is money that is not going in to help the squad.“We will always sign players, of course, but I would expect the numbers to come down as the quality from the academy improves.”Meanwhile Hearts are not expecting to do any deadline day business, with Levein spending the evening in Glasgow watching rock band Snow Patrol.The Hearts manager said: “I’ll have my phone off, so it will be hard to get hold of me.“I’m really pleased with the squad. The players coming back will be like new signings.“I was so pleased with John Souttar on Saturday. [Steven Naismith] is back, we’ve brought [David] Vanecek in, we’ve brought Conor Shaughnessy in and we have Uche [Ikpeazu] and Peter [Haring] coming back from injury shortly.“That should give us enough strength-in-depth to get back to our early season form.”last_img read more