The Heart of Midlothian defender is one of Paul Heckingbottom’s leading targets during this month’s transfer window, as he attempts to bolster United’s rearguard ahead of an attempted push for promotion back to the Premier League.
Although a move to England is thought to be his preferred option, where he also counts Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest as admirers, Rangers believe they can keep the 25-year-old in the Scottish Premiership. As well as being able to offer European football and the chance to compete regularly for medals, the Glaswegian giants will attempt to make a move south of the border appear less financially attractive for Souttar by funding their bid with some of the £16m Rafael Benitez’s side paid to acquire Patterson earlier this month.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Heckingbottom’s opposite number at Ibrox, is said to be growing increasingly that, if his employers can match the salaries being proposed at Bramall Lane and Ewood Park, then Souttar will have no choice other than to choose Rangers.
United were also facing a problem at centre-half before reverting to a back three after appointing Heckingbottom as their new manager in November. The situation could become even more acute if Jack Robinson, who appeared to suffer an injury during Sunday’s FA Cup defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers, is ruled out of this weekend’s visit to Championship rivals Derby County.
John Egan also sat out the third round tie against Bruno Lage’s side, presumably because of Covid-19 restrictions. If the Republic of Ireland international is not available for selection at Pride Park - and Robinson fails to recover in time - then Heckingbottom will be forced to either change formation or promote some youngsters into his starting eleven.
United are preparing for the fixture 13th in the Championship table. However, after suffering a series of postponements over the Christmas and New Year period, they have four matches in hand on Huddersfield Town who currently occupy the fourth and final play-off berth.