RANGERS look to have won the race to sign John Souttar after fending off interest from the Championship to edge closer to clinching a Bosman deal for the Scotland defender.

Boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst has targeted Souttar as one of his priority signings this month amid doubts over the long-term futures of Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun and Nikola Katic's likely exit summer from Ibrox.

Souttar has been the subject of approaches from Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United but Rangers are firmly in the driving seat to secure a pre-contract agreement in the coming days.

And the champions could make a late move to strike a deal and land Souttar this month after Hearts have hosted Celtic in a crucial Premiership clash in a fortnight.

Van Bronckhorst completed his first swoop of the window last week as James Sands arrived on an 18-month loan from New York City and the Dutchman remains in the market for a replacement for Nathan Patterson following his move to Everton.

Striker Cedric Itten has returned to Ibrox after Rangers cut short a stint with Greuther Furth and he will take Jermain Defoe's spot in the squad following the mutual termination of his contract.

Itten scored twice in the Bundesliga this term and sporting director Ross Wilson said: “Gio was aware of Cedric’s profile as a player prior to the confirmation of his appointment as Rangers manager.

"In recent weeks, we have discussed the possibility of bringing Cedric back into the group and following a chat with him at the weekend, we have done just that.

“Clearly Cedric knows the club well, knows what winning here feels like and joins a squad that he is already a popular member of.”

The exit of Defoe has freed up wages within Van Bronckhorst's budget and Rangers are also keen to move on Brandon Barker and Jake Hastie before the close of business.

Middlesbrough are one of a handful of English sides that are interested in John Lundstram following an underwhelming first half of the campaign at Ibrox.

The midfielder could yet remain part of Van Bronckhorst's squad this term but the clock seems to be ticking on his Rangers career just months after a move from Sheffield United.