Hearts manager Craig Levein has started to turn his attention to next season with the reportedly imminent signing of Steven Naismith and a number of trialists appearing for the Jambos reserves – but keeping John Souttar at Tynecastle should be Craig Levein’s priority.

The defender has been one of Hearts’ most consistent performers this season and can still get much better in the future as he continues to develop alongside Christophe Berra.

Scotland's defender John Souttar vies for the ball with Israel's forward Moanes Dabour during the UEFA Nations League football match between Israel and Scotland at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa on October 11, 2018.

(Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)

It won’t be a surprise this summer if there are a number of clubs sniffing around the Scotland international and try to lure him away from Gorgie.

The 22-year-old seems as though he’s been around forever but is still learning his trade and has shown all the attributes to grow into a top defender.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07: John Souttar of Heart of Midlothian vies with Alfredo Morelos of Rangers during the Scottish Ladbrokes Premiership match between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox Stadium on October 7, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Playing regularly for Hearts with the scrutiny of the Tynecastle fans can only help Souttar continue to grow and when he does eventually leave Tynecastle, the Jambos should be looking at a windfall.

With Hearts only five points off third place in the league table, a strong run of results until the end of the season could even see the Jambos in Europe next season.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: John Souttar of Scotland and Steven Naismith of Scotland at full time during the UEFA Nations League C group one match between Scotland and Albania at Hampden Park on September 10, 2018 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The prospect of playing in the Europa League against better players and increasing his profile further is one that will surely appeal to Souttar.

Hearts must do everything in their power to make sure they keep the defender around long enough to see it through.