Scotland has proved one of Everton boss Roberto Martinez’s favourite bargain-hunting grounds in the past and the Toffees are thought to be closing in a £1m swoop for Dundee United’s 17-year-old defender John Souttar as the Spaniard begins to plan for the club’s long-term future.
The Goodison Park outfit are currently a juicy 8/1 in bwin’s Premier League top-four finish betting despite being just a point off second place.
Souttar became The Terrors’ youngest ever player when making his debut at 16 years and 99 days old.
He’s already made 16 appearances for the Tannadice outfit since his debut and started seven times so far this season.
Jackie MacNamara’s side currently boast the second-meanest defence in the Scottish Premiership and they’ve yet to lose in a game Souttar has started in 2013/14.
That includes a 1-1 draw against Celtic at Parkhead in which the hosts only levelled up the match in the 90th minute.
The Daily Record understands that Everton scout Kevin Reeves was present at that fixture and contact from Goodison Park will be forthcoming, although the player would be allowed to remain north of the border on loan for the remainder of the season.
Everton’s first-choice centre-half pairing has a combined age of 66.
The Toffees lost just 12 per cent of the games the estimable Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka started together last season, as opposed to 42 per cent of the ones in which both of the duo didn’t feature from the start.
However with both men the wrong side of 30 and Distin in particular nearer to 40 it looks high time a succession plan is put in place.
The sought-after Scottish youngster would join England Under-21 John Stones on the Toffees’ books.
Souttar could expect to rival Stones as the chief defensive tyro in Martinez’s squad, with the latter already having made a brace of Capital One Cup starts this term as his manager slowly bloods him into first-team action.
Stones, signed from Barnsley in January, shone with an assured performance in the pre-season Champions Cup friendly tournament in which he played at centre-half in a 1-1 draw with Juventus, even scoring a ‘Panenka’ in the ensuing penalty shoot-out.