ROSS WILSON has backed John Souttar to hit new heights at Rangers after putting pen-to-paper on a pre-contract deal with the champions.

Herald and Times Sport revealed this week that Rangers were leading the race to sign Souttar after fending off interest from Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United.

And the Scotland international completed the formalities on the move on Friday after passing his medical tests and agreeing personal terms at Ibrox.

Souttar becomes the second signing of the January transfer window for boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst following the arrival of James Sands on an 18-month loan deal.

Van Bronckhorst was in the market for defensive reinforcements amid doubts over the future of vice-captain Connor Goldson as he enters the final stages of his deal.

Leon Balogun is also out of contract in the summer, while Jack Simpson and Niko Katic will be allowed to leave Ibrox in the coming months.

And sporting director Wilson is delighted to have Souttar on board as planning continues for the next stage of the Light Blues' squad evolution.

Wilson said: “We are really looking forward to John joining Rangers and continuing his development under Gio, 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.”

Rangers could now look to strike a deal to bring Souttar along the M8 before the close of business this month as Robbie Neilson fights to retain the services of one of his most influential performers for the second half of the season.

The Jambos are determined to fend off an early exit, however, and a club statement 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."