Steven Gerrard, the new Rangers boss, made a winning start to his maiden stint in senior management following a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Macedonian outfit FK Shkupi in the Europa League first qualifying round playoff tie at Ibrox and is now upbeat ahead of the return leg fixture on Tuesday night at Philip II Arena.
The former Liverpool and England midfield icon is on a mission of restoring the lost pride and guide the Gers back to title contention against Celtic, the famous rivals, who clinched a ‘double treble’ over past two seasons under Brendan Rodgers and eyeing an eighth successive Premiership glory to exhibit their supremacy in Scottish football. Nine new signings have already been announced at Rangers who are adapting to life in Glasgow, however, the Light Blues chief is still keen on adding a few more resources – specifically a left-footed centre-back following the exit of veteran Bruno Alves who has joined Parma upon their Serie A return.
Rangers, meanwhile, tabled a £3million bid for Millwall defender Jake Cooper on Tuesday but are still waiting for a response from the Lions camp. The silence has left the Gers baffled and frustrated as they are now exploring other options as well to add depth to central defensive slot alongside Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic with first-season flop Fabio Cardoso remaining the only alternative in the current squad.
Centre-backs, who are predominantly left-footed, are not available in abundance and the gaffer will find it hard to have someone similar of Cooper’s stature. We, nevertheless, have shortlisted three such names who are completely off the radar but meet the demands and will be rational as well as realistic transfer targets from every aspect.
Current Club: FK AS Trenčín
Surely not a familiar name, but the Englishman was once a rising star who had his training in the youth ranks of Arsenal, Queens Park Rangers, Ajax and also in Johan Cruyff Institute. Later he plied his trade to Slovakia and joined the Fortuna League outfit FK AS Trenčín. There he earned a regular status as a left-sided centre-back and won multiple honours that include two Super Liga and Slovak Cup titles. Lawrence is known as a ball-playing defender who prefers to play it out from the back with quick movements and strong passing traits. His style suits Gerrard’s brand of high-pressing and free-flowing football, therefore, ticks a lot of boxes to add cover in Rangers’ deep defensive line.
Current Club: Tigres UANL
The former French youth international had a glittering start of his career while featuring for the heavyweights like Lyon, Nice and Sevilla before moving out to Germany where he saw his game time limited at Borussia Mönchengladbach which eventually led to a summer transfer to Mexican outfit Tigres Unal last year. Kolodziejczak who won successive Europa League titles with Sevilla saw his growth stalled in recent years and should be open to a return to the European circuit with assured minutes and stability. He too is a left-footed individual capable of playing both in central defence as well as in a left-back role, therefore, should be wrapped up by Gerrard who is in search of a similar option.
Current Club: Barnsley
The 6 ft 4 in centre-back emerged through non-league football and earned attention while playing his part in promoting Forest Green Rovers in League Two. He was acquired by Championship outfit Barnsley last summer but was not handed enough minutes despite their demotion to the third tier. Pinnock, however, impressed in limited game-time and holds all the traits to have a towering presence in the Gers’ backline. He is strong, tackles hard, intercepts well and also a threat from set-pieces due to his aerial supremacy. Although he is supposed to have a more regular playing time for the Tykes this term, the Light Blues should take the advantage of their relegation and bring the defender in who is still young but has a lot to offer if handed opportunities.
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