The Scotland international’s contract expires at the end of the season and while Robbie Neilson is adamant the defender will stay until the expiry of his contract – if not beyond, with an extension offered – Rangers are at the front of a queue that includes Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers in courting his services.
And McLeish believes it’s little wonder.
The former Rangers manager and two-time Scotland boss is pleased to see the domestic market being used as well as overseas recruits and highlighted Souttar’s attributes as the ideal replacement for Connor Goldson – another with an expiring deal.
“There has been a long spell in Scotland where Rangers and Celtic have been going abroad, picking up players.
“But you always felt you could get a diamond in Scotland from one of your fellow clubs. I know that I plunged into that market,” he said.
“Rangers have to do their homework in advance. They have to make a decision on whether Souttar’s at the level for us.
“He’s certainly shown some brilliant football.”
Souttar’s rapid rise followed a long spell on the sidelines recovering from ruptured achilles injuries which would otherwise be career threatening. However the 25-year-old has regained fitness, and form, and has the ability to progress further, McLeish believes.
His successor at Hampden Steve Clarke agrees too and restored the Hearts defender to the Scotland squad, handing him a start against Denmark where the defender duly scored to cap his comeback.
“John Souttar’s come through a lot with injuries, but he has come back to tremendous form,” McLeish added to Football Insider. “He is a lovely mover of the ball, he’ll see the long pass – not a long ball but a long pass. He is quite composed too.
“Souttar can only get better by going to a bigger club. Hearts are a fantastically big club but Rangers are one of the biggest in the world.
“I’m sure they would want to cover the fact Goldson may be going. We’re still seeing talks continue there.”