John Souttar turned down a move to England for personal reasons, it has been revealed.

Rangers confirmed the signing of Hearts defender Souttar on a pre-contract agreement on Friday.

The 25-year-old had been a target of Rovers who were keen to sign Souttar on a similar deal that would have seen him arrive at Ewood Park in the summer once his Hearts contract expired.

Sheffield United and Stoke City were other Championship sides to have looked into a move for Souttar who has played almost 150 times for Hearts in his six years with the club.

However, Souttar has agreed to extend his time in the Scottish Premiership after signing for Rangers, a decision that his former manager Craig Levein says is down to personal reasons.

He told the BBC: "I feel a bit sorry for John.

"Very sadly, a family member of John's has a very serious illness and he doesn't want to leave Scotland at the moment.

"I've known this all along and contacted John to ask if it was okay to talk about it. So he's in a really tricky situation and won't go down to England for now, that's a definite.

"The only option on the table, other than staying at Hearts, is Rangers. I believe that's why, he wants to win trophies and be successful, but his primary concern is that he doesn't leave Scotland.”

Rovers have looked into pre-contract agreements with players north of the border, with Aberdeen forward Ryan Hedges another deal to have been explored.

However, Rangers have won the race for the signature of the six-times capped Scotland defender.

Hearts are determined to keep him at the club until the end of the season as they aim for European football in the second half of the season.

Rangers’ Sporting Director, Ross Wilson, said “We are really looking forward to John joining Rangers and continuing his development under Gio (van Bronkhorst), our coaching and support staff.

“John is a full Scotland international and has so much potential ahead for the coming years. I have really enjoyed getting to know John across all of our conversations so far and I can see how excited he and his family are to be joining Rangers. We are equally excited to welcome John to Ibrox.”