WHETHER Malik Tillman returns to Rangers after his loan deal expires next month or moves on elsewhere remains uncertain.

The Bayern Munich loanee, who was named PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year at an awards ceremony in Glasgow city centre on Sunday night, will speak with manager Michael Beale about his future this week.

Beale is a huge admirer of the gifted 20-year-old, who the Ibrox club have an option to buy for a fee in the region of £5m, and has admitted in the past that he would like to sign him permanently.

But the attacking midfielder will not be short of options during the summer given how well he has performed this season and may well decide that he would prefer to further his career in a different locale even if Rangers meet his asking price.

If the United States internationalist does choose to look to pastures new, though, he will reflect on his time in Scotland with both gratitude and affection.

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The attacking midfielder believes that playing for the Govan outfit at home and abroad in the 2022/23 campaign has been important to both his physical and emotional development and has turned him from a boy into a man.

A great deal was expected of the promising youngster who made four first team appearances for Bavarian giants Bayern in the Bundesliga last term when he joined Rangers.

Tillman took some time to convince supporters he was worth the expenditure it took to secure his services. His early season form was inconsistent. He struggled to adjust to the game here initially. He was lambasted by many fans for his poor defensive work.

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However, the versatile player rose to the challenge of representing one of the biggest and best supported clubs in Europe on a weekly basis, dealt with being away from his friends and family for the first time in his life and responded to the criticism which was aimed in his direction by redoubling his efforts.

He believes he is a far more mature person and complete footballer now than he was when he first arrived in this country last July and is glad he made the move.

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“I watched the friendly against Blackpool in the summer and that is when I really realised how big of a club Rangers is,” he said. “Almost the whole stadium was full of Rangers fans. I think for the people here in Glasgow and the Rangers fans are passionate in a way I have never experienced.

“Playing in front of 52,000 people every home game is what I have never had before. I had to get used to it, but I think you just grow into it and try to do the best you can.

“Everything in the Scottish league is pretty much different to the German one as well. It is way harder and way more focused on physicality. So I had to adapt to it.

“But the team helped me a lot, the club helped me a lot, the people around helped me a lot and the fans as well. So they made it easy for me. I think I have grown up quickly as a footballer and a man.

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“I think I have improved in every way. Before, I would say that my defensive work wasn’t quite good enough. That’s what annoyed the fans as well. That’s what I heard anyway. So I think I did a good job to improve on that point.

“I would say in football that you have to be on a certain level. Like not only the fans expect it from me, but yourself as well. That’s what I did. You just want to give your best every time you play and train and just be better every game.

“If you come from Bayern, obviously they are one of the biggest clubs in the world. You have to show it to other guys that you can do something and that you can play football. That is what I tried."

Life off-field has been every bit as challenging for him. Tillman had never lived away from home for any length of time and he confessed that doing so had been a struggle at first. But he is appreciative of the help he received from his fellow players and supporters.

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“Being away from your friends and family can make you feel a bit sad sometimes because you can’t be around them,” he said. “But my mum came over sometimes and that was really good for me. Glasgow is a really nice city and the people here are nice. All of my team mates were quite nice. I can’t really complain at all. 

“But I would say I had the best relationship with Rabbi Matondo. He told me to come back when I left to do my rehab in Germany. I’m going to see them all again this week, see what they’re saying. If I leave, I’m going to miss all of those guys, that’s for sure.”  

Tillman, who revealed that Bayern have monitored his progress in the past 10 months and have been pleased with the strides forward he has made, admitted that being voted Young Player of the Year by his fellow professionals has capped a satisfying campaign for him on a personal level.

“At the beginning of the season, their direct contact with me was more than it is now,” he said. “But my agent spoke to them a lot and they watched many games. They see what I have improved and they are quite happy.

“I was extremely happy myself to get the Young Player award. I’m proud of myself. It is kind of a recognition because the other players voted for it. It is just great. I didn’t expect the season to go so well.”