Rangers have announced the signing of Hearts and Scotland defender John Souttar on a pre-contract agreement.
The Ibrox club have beaten off competition from a host of English Championship clubs, including Blackburn and Sheffield United, to land the services of the 25-year-old when his deal at Tynecastle expires at the end of the season.
Sporting director Ross Wilson told Rangers’ website: “We are really looking forward to John joining Rangers and continuing his development under Gio (Van Bronckhorst), our coaching and support staff.
“John is a full Scotland international and has so much potential ahead for the coming years.
“I have really enjoyed getting to know John across all of our conversations so far and I can see how excited he and his family are to be joining Rangers. We are equally excited to welcome John to Ibrox.”
Hearts, however, have made it clear they intend to keep hold of Souttar until the end of the season and will not be pressured into selling him to the Ibrox club on the cheap.
A statement on the Tynecastle club’s website read: “Heart of Midlothian Football Club notes Rangers Football Club’s announcement of John Souttar’s pre-contract signing.
“The club reiterates that John is an important member of the first-team squad and will remain so until the end of the season unless a significant and satisfactory offer is made during the January transfer window.
“No further comment will be made at this time.”
Souttar joined Hearts as a teenager from Dundee United in January 2016 and, despite rupturing his Achilles three times in recent years, he has established himself as one of Scotland’s top defenders.
After returning from his latest setback last April, he has managed to stay injury-free. Souttar marked his return to the Scotland setup by scoring in a 2-0 victory over Denmark in November.