With a heavy heart and 10 years full of memories, James Collins has bid farewell to West Ham United and is currently in the market as a free agent. The Hammers decided not to renew the 34-year-old’s contract as they look for ways to bolster the squad ahead of the 2018/19 season. Rangers FC have taken a newfound interest in Collins after finding themselves in a rough spot over the Martin Skrtel transfer.
Steven Gerrard would have ideally liked his former teammate to take up command of his team’s defence but the move is turning out to be a logistical nightmare. The 33-year-old would cost the Light Blues far too much and Skrtel’s wage demands are sky high at the moment.
Collins almost seems like a godsend at this point since Gerrard’s squad overhaul has been halted after making just one signing till now. The veteran centre-back appeared in 16 games for United last term, over 200 in total. Injury to the hamstring and other parts of his ageing body robbed him of regular minutes but the Welshman still made a difference.
He was fielded in the back three formation by David Moyes to help drive his team out of the relegation scraps late in the previous season. Collins was solid right from the word go and even scored a goal against AFC Bournemouth to help his team get a point out of the 3-3 scoreline.
Collins has bags of top-flight experience, having spent 10 years with West Ham, 3 with Aston Villa and 5 with Cardiff City. The Newport-born defender started out his playing career with Cardiff after joining the side when he was 15.
He broke through the youth ranks with ease and made his debut on 19 November 2000 in the FA Cup draw against Bristol Rovers, aged 17. In his early days, Collins played both as a central defender and centre-forward as manager, Lennie Lawrence was unsure of where the Welshman’s talents could be best utilised.
Standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall, Collins was definitely a dominating figure who could have excelled as a traditional number nine. He made 86 appearances in all competitions for the Bluebirds before making his switch to West Ham.
After spending an uneventful first stint with the Hammers, Collins found refuge in the Villa lineup where he got to make a real difference in his 108 appearances. It would be a steal for Rangers to pick up the resolute figure on a free transfer.
He has the entire defensive backline mapped at the palm of his hands and the Ibrox-side could do very well with a leader like him.