HAVING gone nearly three months without playing in a single competitive match due his refusal to sign a contract extension at Standard Liege, Nicolas Raskin was looking no further ahead than the meeting with Ross County this afternoon when he spoke to the media at Ibrox yesterday.

Beyond the cinch Premiership game against the Highlanders in Govan, though, Raskin has some lofty ambitions.

He has trained with the Belgian national team in the past and was tipped by many knowledgeable observers in his homeland to be rewarded for his impressive early season form with a place in Roberto Martinez’s squad for the World Cup finals in November.

No call-up was forthcoming. But with the Red Devils failing to progress beyond the group stages in Qatar and with former RB Leipzig manager Domenico Tedesco poised to take over from Martinez, new faces are set to be brought in for the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

Could the 21-year-old midfielder force his way into the set-up and feature in the Group F matches against Austria, Sweden, Azerbaijan and Estonia? Representing his country is certainly a major goal for the six-times capped under-21 internationalist.

He believes that his move to Rangers will help him to achieve his objective in the not-too-distant future. He is eager to be involved in the Champions League group stages next season and showcase his talents in Europe’s premier club competition. 

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“Things with the national team are going to change because of the new manager,” he said. “Maybe the new generation is coming with a lot of players. I knew I had to move to a big club to have more chance of being a part of that.

“I’ve trained with them before, but I’m still waiting for my first cap. We’ve got some good players in the national team! There was a chance (of a call-up for the World Cup) because we did great in the first part of the season. But the coach decided something else. Okay, it’s like that. It’s not something I can change.

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“But I’m sure Rangers can be the club to help me make that step. We will play in Europe next year so I think this can be very good to help. I hope that playing at one of the biggest clubs in the world can help me to get there.”

Raskin helped the Belgium Under-21 team to qualify for the European Championship finals in Romania and Georgia this summer and was concerned his lack of game time at Standard would jeopardise his chance of being involved. He is pleased to put the unsettling spell behind him.

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“I could understand their position,” he said. “But I also had my position. It’s a long story.  If you play for four years with the lowest contract in the team and you are one of the best players in the team, you cannot ask me too much. 

“It was tough, but I knew I had options. I was just preparing myself and keeping my body fit to try and make the perfect move for me. Honestly, I wanted this story to end differently. But with life sometimes you don’t have a choice. Life just goes on.”

Raskin got on well with Ronny Deila, the former Celtic manager who took over at Liege in the summer and was told not to play the midfielder by club officials, despite being frozen out. He recalled how the Norwegian spoke positively about Scottish football when Rangers came in for him.  

“He told me there is way more passion and ambition,” he said. “Both clubs are in a big battle. He said very good things about the city. Did he try and steer me? No! He’s working for Standard now. He’s got enough to do there! 

“My relationship with Ronny was very good. He is a very good guy, a very good coach and I think he’s done great with Standard. We were good together.”

Rangers manager Michael Beale this week described his new signing as more of a technical and a combative player. Raskin, though, is certain he will have no difficulty dealing with the physical nature of the game here.

“I can be both,” he said. “I can surprise people. I like to play football and enjoy playing good football. But when it’s getting hard it’s no problem to roll my sleeves up and get into the battle. That’s something in my DNA.

“In Belgium we have that same spirit as here in Scotland. We’re very passionate and the fans were always happy as long as you gave everything on the pitch. So I know how it feels to give everything for the fans and for the club.”