Cyriel Dessers is used to playing at clubs with high expectations. But the 28-year-old, who has lifted silverware in Belgium with Genk and competed in a European final with Feyenoord of the Netherlands, believes that the challenge awaiting him at Rangers is his greatest yet.

Last week, the striker put pen to paper on a four-year deal at Ibrox as the cinch Premiership club’s long-standing interest in the player eventually drew to a close. Dessers flew out to join his new team-mates at their pre-season training camp after the reported £4.5million deal with Italian outfit Cremonese was finalised, and he will have to wait a little longer receives a rude awakening into what life is like in Glasgow’s goldfish bowl.

The man himself feels suitably prepared, though. Playing for top teams on the continent has given Dessers a taste of the relentless nature required to succeed in Scotland, but he admits that the somewhat unique demands at Rangers, where every defeat is a disaster, will be a step up from what he has previously experienced in his career.

“At Feyenoord and Genk in Belgium, those are top teams and there’s always pressure to compete and to play for trophies, so that’s not new for me,” he said. “Rangers is different but at Feyenoord the pressure was also very high. But that’s something I like and makes me perform even better. I hope I can show that in Glasgow.

“I haven’t walked around in Glasgow yet or played at Ibrox to experience that but from the stories I’ve heard and what I think now, the pressure will be even higher. But I think that’s good thing. If you’re only playing for a spot in the middle of the table with no pressure, that gets boring after a while. I prefer this.”

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The move is certainly an adjustment for Dessers, who spent the 2022/23 season with Cremonese battling against the club’s eventual relegation from Serie A to join a team with aspirations of wresting the Premiership title back from Celtic. He was a relatively small fish in a big pond; now, he will be playing for a team at the top of Scottish football’s food chain.

That change in circumstances will bring its own challenges with it. The Premiership has a well-earned reputation for physicality, and it can take time for foreign imports to adapt to Scottish football’s various idiosyncrasies. Dessers hasn’t given the notion too much consideration, but remains confident he will settle in quickly after facing off against some of the world’s best defenders in Serie A last term.

“I haven’t really thought about this,” he said. “I’ve more been focusing on my own game and about what I need to do. But I think if we get to our level and do the things we need to do then I think we’ll overcome that.

“But in Italy I’ve been up against some pretty rough defenders who were also allowed to get away with a lot - the referees in Italy don’t whistle as fast as they do in Belgium or the Netherlands. So I think I’m coming from a good place to adapt to Scotland.

“When I am thinking about the best defenders I’ve played against I’m thinking about for example Merih Demiral of Atalanta, Alessandro Bastone at Inter and of course Kim Min-jae from Napoli. All great defenders. But I like that actually. It’s a challenge to compete with them and to fight with them and to battle with them.

“It helps you develop as a player, even at my age. I’m not the youngest any more but I’ve still got a lot to learn and I want to learn a lot. I think you get stronger and faster and smarter, you know how to use your body. So of course you try to take something out of it.”

He added: “Of course it made me a better player. I’d been dreaming about playing in a top five league since I was a kid, actually. To finally be there, witness it and be part of it was amazing. I learned a lot there.

“When you play against some of the best defenders in the world, you learn how to use your body, to play smarter and faster. All of that. On top of the experience I had from Belgium and the Netherlands, I feel that made me a more complete football player.  I hope I can convert it and show it in the Scottish league as well to get firing again.”

Dessers was certainly firing on all cylinders during the second half of the 2021/22 season at Feyenoord. He took a little while to get going after joining on loan from Genk but finished the campaign with 20 goals to his name, with 10 of those arriving in the inaugural edition of the Conference League.

Arne Slot’s team advanced all the way to the final in Tirana, where they would suffer a painful 1-0 defeat at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s Roma as European silverware eluded Dessers’ grasp in heart-breaking fashion.

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It is a feeling that many of Dessers’ new team-mates will be able to relate to. Only a few days before Feyenoord fell short, Rangers had done the same after being edged out by Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties in the Europa League final.

“If you’ve been to the final and get that close to winning a really big trophy then it hurts,” Dessers explained. “But it makes your hunger also even bigger to finally lift a really big trophy. To do that at Rangers would be a dream, of course.

“Rangers is a big club in Europe, so you see a lot of their highlights, and also since I had that first contact with Rangers four years ago I’ve been following the club a little bit. So of course I saw their run to Seville. It was amazing.

“We were in a training camp in Portugal with Feyenoord preparing for our own final in the Conference League that week and of course we watched the Europa League final. I was hoping for a Rangers win but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

There are three members of the Rangers squad that reached the Europa League final in Seville that Dessers knows from his time in the international set-up with Nigeria: Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey and Joe Aribo. All three enjoyed successful spells in Glasgow – Aribo and Bassey truly excelled – and Dessers is hoping to follow his compatriots’ example.

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With AFCON taking place in January, the four-times capped Nigeria internationalist knows that strong performances could see him regain his place in the national team squad but the 28-year-old insists that he is staying fully focused on the here and now at Rangers.

“All of them have been pretty successful at Rangers so they had some good experiences here and I knew that of course,” Dessers said of his fellow Nigeria team-mates. “I hope to be the next Nigerian national team player to be successful at Rangers, that would be a dream!

“At the beginning of this season I was with the national team two times. But the last two times I haven’t been involved due to a slight injury. At this moment [AFCON] is not really in my head.

“First you have to perform of course, you have to score goals and win games. Then you get into the picture for the Nigerian national team. The competition is really big. We have eight or nine strikers who could easily be called up so I’m not too focused on it.

“If it comes and I get a call-up, that’s a good sign. It means I’m playing well for Rangers. But I’m not too focused on that, I’m focused on Rangers right now.”