Mick Beale’s Rangers have scouted Serbia U21 international Petar Ratkov but the striker is reportedly closest to joining a La Liga or Serie A club as things stand. 

With Kieran Dowell and Dujon Sterling through the door – and with deals for Jack Butland and Jose Cifuentes progressing nicely – Rangers’ extensive summer rebuild appears well ahead of schedule. 

Dowell and Sterling give Beale some useful competition at right-back and in central midfield. Butland, on loan at Manchester United from Crystal Palace, should be an upgrade on 41-year-old Allan McGregor between the sticks while, in Los Angeles FC enforcer Cifuentes, the Glasgow giants are also closing in on one of the most exciting young talents from across the Atlantic. 

But while some serious progress is being made regarding reinforcements in midfield and at the back, the Premiership runners-up appear no closer to signing a centre-forward capable of filling an Alfredo Morelos-shaped hole. 

UEFA Under-19 Championship Slovakia 2022 Qualifying round"The Netherlands U19 v Serbia U19"
Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Who will be Rangers’ new striker?

Matija Frigan and Nikola Krstovic both played down potential moves last week. Anastosios ‘Tasos’ Douvikas may be a little on the expensive side. 

And as for Ratkov, a 6ft 4ins giant of a number nine scouted by Rangers in recent months, Serbian publication Republika believe that a move to either La Liga or Serie A is far more likely at this stage. 

Ratkov, the report adds, is ‘closest’ to joining a club in Spain or Italy. AC Milan, seven-time European champions and one of the continent’s most historic institutions, have also been keeping tabs on the towering 19-year-old, though Republikka does not explain whether or not an offer has arrived from the San Siro.

Belgrade-born Ratkov scored 14 goals and set up five more for Serbian outfit TSC Backa Topola in 2022/23.

“Ratkov is playing well,” explains TSC president Janos Zemberi. “We are waiting for the summer transfer window because we believe that his price will increase further. Again, I come back to patience. You have to wait. 

“Another player should be signed in his place. We must have projects like Petar. If you’re only chasing results, then young players won’t have the patience, and we wouldn’t be able to make money either.”

Repubblika add that Vojvodina’s Nemanja Nikolić is likely to be the ‘replacement’ in question. Any deal for Ratkov, meanwhile, will now cost more than £3 million after TSC turned down an offer of such from MLS outfit Real Salt Lake.

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