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'A fresh start might be the answer to elevate Souttar’s growing career': The Aussie's desperate situation at Leicester

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Roar Rookie
8th June, 2024
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1083 Reads

It was as few as 98 minutes.

Yes, that’s correct; that’s all the playing time Socceroo Harry Souttar was afforded in Leicester City’s promotion-winning 23/24 campaign.

This is not ideal for a player so key in Graham Arnold’s national plans, and in his latest press conference, Australia’s manager made this known to the player and the public:

“I know he’s going through a tough time at Leicester. I had a good chat with him today. He has to fix it. This can’t go on forever, but what we are doing probably at the moment is helping his career by giving him match minutes during these FIFA (international) windows and showing what he can do, but as a side to him today, this next transfer window is going to be really crucial for him.”

While requesting a transfer may seem like a straightforward solution for Souttar, the reality is more complicated, suggesting that more factors might be at play in his decision.

Souttar’s current situation at Leicester

With Enzo Maresca taking charge of a relegated Leicester City side in season 23/24, expectations were that Leicester would bounce right back to England’s top division.

However, for Maresca to get the Foxes rolling, Leicester had to adapt to his style, which came at the expense of some existing personnel.

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The team’s personality and identity had to be in sync with Maresca’s style, which affected squad players like Harry Souttar.

His playtime dropped significantly, from 12 games in the 22/23 Premier League season to 98 minutes in the Championship.

(Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

Maresca stated that the “very simple” reason Souttar didn’t feature at all for the Foxes was the personnel he had at his disposal.

Maresca fancied the 31-year-old Jannick Vestergaard and 26-year-old Belgian Wout Faes as his starting centre-back pairing. Both played 43 and 42 games, respectively.

Maresca’s methodology included adopting a high line, with fullbacks Ricardo Peirera and James Justin tucking inside as inverted fullbacks to dominate midfield and distribute to his wide wingers.

This tactical setup meant his centre backs needed high comfortability on the ball and excellent recovery speed and tenacity, much like Man City, where he learned his craft from Pep Guardiola.

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Unfortunately, Maresca did not see these qualities at a high level in Harry Souttar.

It was hard to see Souttar getting a chance regardless due to Faes and Vestergaard’s flawless form throughout the 23/24 campaign.

The pair was the main reason Leicester only conceded 41 goals, the fewest in the Championship, ensuring the Foxes’ promotion.

Even veteran Conner Coady was preferred to Souttar, playing 12 matches. That alone should have been the Aussie’s cue to leave.

Why Souttar needs to leave Leicester and maybe England

It isn’t ideal when you’re Australia’s spiritual leader, backline general, and arguably the Socceroo’s most crucial player, yet you’re mostly out of any matchday squads for your club side.

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This has not pleased head coach Graham Arnold one bit.

In the meantime, Souttar can get away with next to no minutes and still do well against inferior teams such as Bangladesh, but as the Socceroos’ World Cup qualification campaign ramps up, they’ll need their key man to be sharp and in form.

Souttar seems keen to prove himself at Leicester, evident by his rejection of Maresca’s option for the defender to leave the club in the summer, despite knowing he was way down the pecking order for the Italian.

Unfortunately for Harry, the sample size is big enough now. It won’t get any easier breaking into Leicester’s starting eleven now that the Foxes are back in the Premier League and looking to bolster their squad in a big way.

Souttar would benefit from a move away from his comfort zone as a whole. Having played in the United Kingdom his whole career thus far, Souttar would be wise to follow the steps of other players from the UK to try to reignite their careers overseas.

Most notably former Chelsea academy product now at AC Milan Fikayo Tomori and Jadon Sancho who had a magical stint at Borussia Dortmund. A fresh start might be the answer to elevate Souttar’s growing career.

A move to either Italy or Germany would be a good option as long as the defender gets minutes. Souttar’s skill set would complement and improve due to the styles of play these countries pride themselves on.

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Harry Souttar of Leicester in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leicester City at Villa Park

Harry Souttar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Having played in the Premier League, Souttar still has value at 25, so a lower to mid-table top-division club would be more than keen on his services.

Any club that acquires Souttar’s services would get a two-metre-tall dominant force in the air and on the ground who isn’t fussed when dealt the responsibility of playing out with the ball.

It’s pretty enticing if you ask me. Not to mention, Souttar is arguably the first name on his national team sheet, meaning whatever club gets him, he will get a seasoned international with quality if utilized and treated correctly.

Harry Souttar’s career is at a critical juncture. He cannot afford to continue scrapping for minutes, even at the highest level. The Socceroos need his talents, and his legacy demands that he takes action. The time for a transfer is now.

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The upcoming transfer window is going to be massive for Harry. Watch this space; I know Graham Arnold definitely will.

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