Hibernian defender Ryan Porteous has exclusively told Sky Sports that he wants to challenge himself in a “different league” to become a “regular starter” for Scotland.
Hibs announced last month that the Scotland international had rejected a new deal, with his current contract expiring at the end of the season.
The 23-year-old is reportedly a target for Championship teams Millwall and Stoke, while Italian side Udinese have been linked with a move.
Porteous exclusively said of his future: “I do like the idea of moving to a different league and testing myself there.
“I think there’s a lot of boys that have left Scottish football that have went down and flourished whether that be down south or abroad.
“I’m open to ideas and now it’s trying to figure out the one that’s best suited for me.”
Rangers, who Hibs resume their Scottish Premiership campaign against at Ibrox on Thursday live on Sky Sports, have also been rumoured as another potential destination for Porteous.
Asked about a move to the Glasgow club, he said: “I do really like the idea of moving to a different league and challenging myself.
“It wouldn’t go down too well, so we’ll see.”
‘I want to be a regular starter for Scotland’
Porteous earned his first Scotland cap in September as he started in the goalless Nations League draw against Ukraine and harbours hopes of being a mainstay in Steve Clarke’s side.
He said: “There probably comes a point at the same place where I’m not developing as a player as fast as I was 18 months ago, two years ago.
“So if I can be taken out of my comfort zone hopefully it’ll develop me as a player faster and can push for Scotland call-ups regularly and be a regular starter for Scotland.
“Every time you go away with the national team you come back to training and it’s a bit of a comedown because it’s such a high standard, such a high intensity in training and the games so you just try to help the boys and tell them here that at the top level it’s very high.
“Having spoken to John McGinn he said it’s like that at Aston Villa every single day. That’s something that I definitely want to aspire to get to.”
‘Leaving on a free never going to be nice’
Porteous is free to talk to other teams in January but the Edinburgh side may look to sell him in the winter transfer window.
“I’ve never been unhappy or unsettled here,” he said. “It’s never nice to see fans turn on you little bit but that’s football.
“I understand that, I’m a fan as well and if a player that’s been playing regularly in the last few years was potentially leaving for free then it’s never going to be nice but that’s the situation we’re in at the end of the day.
Asked about his decision to reject a new contract at Hibs, he said: “It was a very difficult one something that I didn’t take lightly and didn’t make fast.
“I’ve been here for a long time, I felt like I’m progressing very well as a player and maybe it comes to that stage in everyone’s career where you need to be taken out of your comfort zone, see a new challenge, take that in your stride and see how good you can become as a player.
“It’s a short career, there’s been a lot of players they have moved on from the club that they love and done great things so I’m ready to take that step.
Asked how difficult the decision was, he replied: “Of course. If it was a decision that I’d made quickly then it would have been made a lot earlier in the season.
“It was obviously a difficult one for me and my family to make but I think it is the right one and I’m looking forward to the next step.”
‘I may have stayed at Hibs had I been offered new deal earlier’
Hibs announced in November that Porteous had rejected the offer of “a highly-improved new deal” but he has admitted that if the offer had been made 18 months earlier he may have stayed at Easter Road.
Asked whether anything could have kept him at Hibs, he replied: “Maybe not as this stage. But 18 months ago, two years ago if a similar offer was on the table then I think for extra security for me and my family it would’ve been a no-brainer.
“If there was an offer after the season we finished third and got to two cup finals similar to this one then it would’ve been hard to say no. But we are where we are. I think I’ve done the best thing for myself and for my family as well.
“I signed a five-and-a-half-year deal when I was 18 and I think throughout that time there has been multiple offers that have come into the club and I’ve been more than happy to stay because I felt like I was becoming a better player.
“We’re in a situation now where we’ve still got three games left until the January window opens and I’m 100 per cent committed to the club.”