Dundee United have hit out at comments made by Craig Levein suggesting that the Tannadice club nearly ruined John Souttar’s career, branding the remarks “derogatory and misleading”.
The Hearts manager suggested that the Tannadice club had jeopardised the 21-year-old’s future as a footballer by playing him in a number of different positions.
Levein said: “I’m not being disrespectful but they nearly ruined his career. Right back, left back, centre midfield. “It’s quite confusing for a young player when you are being moved into three or four different places and no-one has got your back and is giving you the support you need.
“I’m talking disparagingly but United sold all their best players and he was left behind and he became an easy target.
“It says everything about him that he has taken himself from that position where people thought he was one thing to moving up to someone who I think will be a mainstay for the Scotland national team for a long time.”
But United have hit out at Levein’s comments, expressing their disappointment at the former United manager’s view on Souttar’s development.
In a statement posted on the club’s website, United said: “We are very disappointed to read the derogatory and misleading statement attributed to the manager of a fellow Scottish FA member club relating to ex-United player John Souttar.
“As a club, we are rightly proud of our long-standing and widely held reputation for developing young talent. “John played top-level football for four seasons having made his debut under Peter Houston at the age of 16 years and 100 days.
“In total, John played 73 times in Dundee United’s first-team and represented his country at all age groups up to and including Under 21s during his time at the club.
“We are extremely proud that one of our youth academy graduates has now progressed into the full Scottish national team and are delighted to have played a significant part in John’s development as a professional footballer.
“We wish John well in his future career.”