Hearts boss Robbie Neilson says the club have rejected an offer from Rangers to sign John Souttar this month, and insists the player is staying put unless their high valuation is met.
The Scotland international has signed a pre-contract agreement to move to Ibrox in the summer when his Hearts deal expires.
The Tynecastle club aren’t opposed to Souttar making the move early and signing for Rangers before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, but have a specific figure they want in exchange for the centre-back.
Souttar, who was booed repeatedly by a section of the support during Tuesday’s Premiership match, was left out of the squad to play Auchinleck Talbot in the Scottish Cup on Saturday. That prompted speculation that a move was imminent but Hearts say an ankle injury ruled him out of the trip to Beechwood Park.
Neilson says Rangers have made an offer but it didn’t come near the asking price. He is happy to keep the player in his squad for the rest of the season.
“We’ve had a bid in, which has been knocked out the ballpark, so we will wait and see if anything else comes in,” the Hearts boss said.
“We value John very, very highly and if anyone is going to take him in this window, they are going to need to pay for him because we are aiming for the Scottish Cup and European football and we need to keep our best players.
“John had a problem with his ankle after the game the other night. I know everybody thinks it is to do with what is happening, but it was on his Achilles and we felt there was no point in bringing him down here.
“I know everyone will be looking more into it after what has happened but that’s the truth. He will be in the squad for Wednesday (against Celtic), unless things change.”
Reflecting on his side’s 5-0 victory over Auchinleck Talbot, Neilson was happy with how his side dominated the Junior opposition to reach the fifth round of the cup. However, he was unhappy with when two Liam Boyce goals were ruled out for offside and a penalty claim was denied after Talbot’s Craig McCracken handled in the box.
“I think the officials will be taking a couple of panadol and having an early night,” he said. “Thankfully, it didn’t have a bearing on the game.
“We didn’t let it get to us and it shows what a strong team we have here. We want to try and get as far as we can in this competition and I spoke to them before the game about how you have to get over different challenges.”