CRAIG LEVEIN has dismissed speculation linking John Souttar with a transfer to Rangers as the ‘usual crap’ that precedes an encounter between the sides, while mischievously questioning whether the Scotland defender would even consider a move to Ibrox. 

The Hearts manager has been irked by reports that Steven Gerrard has made the 22-year-old one of his top summer targets and tacitly suggested it was no coincidence that the Gers visit Tynecastle Park tomorrow. 

Hearts have previously become embroiled in transfer sagas with the Glasgow giants over Jamie Walker and Kyle Lafferty, with the latter ultimately moving west in a £700,000 deal last summer and Levein believes he has spotted a pattern. 

"John is the most laid back kid I have ever met in my life,” explained Levein. “It will take a lot to get John excited and I haven’t felt the need to speak to him about it. 

Evening Times: Craig Levein and his staff in trainingCraig Levein and his staff in training

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“It’s just the usual crap; we are coming up to a game against Rangers and there is speculation about one of our players.” 

While reluctant to slap a price tag on Souttar’s head, Levein was also visibly exasperated by suggestions that £2 million could be enough to secure the signing of a player who recently signed a new contract which ties him to the Jambos until the summer of 2022. 

That offer would be given short shrift by Hearts chiefs. Moreover, Levein is adamant the player is in no rush to move on. 

Wilfully throwing a grenade at the end of the broadcast element of his media duties yesterday, Levein said smile: “I’m not sure John would want to go there.” Urged to expand on the quip with the written press, he laughed: “I was just throwing a little pebble into the water!”

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Striking a more considered tone, he continued: “I don’t need to value John Souttar. It is straight-forward, if a club makes an offer then we will talk about it in the boardroom and then we will have a better idea of what the price should be. 

“John is in no hurry to go anywhere. That is something he has stressed to me. He has said: ‘I’m learning here’, he’s got great support around him, is getter better all the time and has got into the Scotland squad, which he is really proud of.”