Team-mate can’t believe Celtic didn’t sign 25-year-old star

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Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Gary Mackay-Steven cannot understand why Celtic did not make a move for John Souttar, speaking to Open Goal after the Hearts defender sealed a move to Old Firm neighbours Rangers. 

If Souttar felt under pressure to perform during Tuesday’s Premiership clash with St Johnstone – as the boos rang out from the Tynecastle terraces – he certainly didn’t show it. 

The Scotland international thrived under the most intense scrutiny, producing a performance full of composure and class as Hearts cemented their place in third. 

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Souttar has certainly been the centre of attention this week. After being linked with a whole manner of clubs on both sides of the border, the former Dundee United youngster finally brought an end to all that speculation.  

He will join Rangers on a free transfer when his contract expires in July – a move that hasn’t gone down all too well at Hearts. 

Will Celtic regret not signing Rangers’ John Souttar?

Title-rivals Celtic had been linked with a swoop of their own before Christmas (Scottish Sun).

But while Rangers were tying up a deal for one of the Premiership’s most reliable defenders, Celtic were looking to reinforce other areas of Ange Postecoglou’s squad, namely up front and in attacking midfield. 

“I’m not sure (why Celtic didn’t go for Souttar). It’s surprising,” says one-time Hoops winger Mackay-Steven, who plays alongside the 25-year-old in Edinburgh. 

“He just strolled the game (against St Johnstone). It was one of his better performances under all that scrutiny.” 

Celtic were conceding goals at an alarming rate during the first few months of the Ange Postecoglou reign, struggling to come to terms with the manager’s famously free-wheeling tactics.

The Glasgow giants improved substantially since then, however, and now look about as tight as Michael Owen’s hamstrings.  

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic have eight clean sheets in their last 13 league games. Stephen Welsh continues to go from strength to strength. Even the much-maligned Carl Starfelt is starting to silence his doubters. 

Better late than never, we suppose. 

“I know Celtic have the boy Welsh, who has done really well. They’ve signed Starfelt and a few centre halves,” Mackay-Steven adds. 

“They’ve obviously spent money on bringing all the Japanese boys from the league that the manager used to be in. 

“Maybe that was their main focus and he just wasn’t their top choice. Maybe it’s just the one that got away. I don’t know but he’s a top, top player. John has every attribute.” 

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

In other news, Tottenham join West Ham in race for Championship wonderkid, Brentford had £8m bid rejected in summer

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