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Croatia defender Nikola Katic raring to go as he joins Gerrard’s Ibrox revamp

 

By Andy Newport

New Rangers signing Nikola Katic claims he could not get to Ibrox quickly enough to join up with Steven Gerrard.

The Govan club announced the arrival of the 21-year-old Croatia defender from Slaven Belupo on a four-year deal. Katic became the fifth signing of the Gerrard era ahead of the players returning to training later this week.

He said: “It is a big pleasure to be here as this is a big club, one of the biggest in Europe and in the world. It is good to be here and this is a big step for me.

“When they told me Steven Gerrard wanted to take me, I told my agent I’d get my shoes on and run to Scotland.

“He is a legend of football all over the world and I’m glad to be here with him. It’s a big club in a strong league. I can play in Europe and play in front of 50,000 fans at every home game. It’s wonderful and a really good step for me.”

Katic, who was capped for the first time by Croatia in a friendly against Mexico in May 2017, is keen to play in an Old Firm derby and believes he has all the attributes to be a success in Scottish football.

He added: “I’m the sort of player who likes a duel and in Scotland, the type of football I think is for me. There are a lot of long balls and a lot of duels, and that is what I like.

“I’ve seen the stadium on television and I have read about the fans and the rivalry with Celtic. It is really great and I cannot wait to play here.”

Katic becomes the fourth Croatian to play for Rangers, following in the footsteps of Dado Prso, Nikica Jelavic and Niko Kranjcar, and is keen to build on his fledgling international career.

He said: “Rangers is a good step to show to the national manager that I can play for the national team.

“Everyone has said they [the former players] did a good job here, and now I have a job to hold that tradition here.”

Katic started his football career at HNK Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina before moving to Neretvanac in Croatia in 2014 and then joining Slaven Belupo two years later.

With defender Connor Goldson expected to complete his £3m switch from Brighton, this news will bring more welcome cheer to the Ibrox fans.

Rangers’ defence creaked continuously last term as Bruno Alves, Fabio Cardoso, Danny Wilson, David Bates, Ross McCrorie and Russell Martin all failed to provide an effective back line.

But Gerrard has acted quickly to beef up the centre of his defence, with midfielder Scott Arfield expected to provide an extra layer of security in front following his move from Burnley.

Rangers have brought goalkeeper Allan McGregor back to the club, made Jamie Murphy’s loan switch from Brighton permanent and signed Liverpool youngster Ovie Ejaria on loan.

Belfast Telegraph

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