Saturday, August 20, 2022

Rangers Are Monitoring This High-Flying Genk Star: Why They Must Step Up The Chase

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

Rangers, the Europa League runners-up last season, have suffered a massive setback with star midfielder Joe Aribo set to join Southampton this summer. Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent have not extended their contract yet beyond next year and the club, therefore, must rope in reinforcements to bolster the squad. They have been linked with a few names so far this window and according to Belgian outlet Footnews, the Gers are keeping close tabs on Genk winger Theo Bongonda.

The 26-year-old attacker began his career in JMG Academy before joining the youth ranks of SV Zulte Waregem. There he broke into the senior setup and eventually grabbed a regular role prior to his Celta Vigo transfer. Although his spell in La Liga was far from impressive, a loan return to Essevee handed him a lifeline after failing to leave a mark in Turkey with Trabzonspor.

A majestic second stint at Zulte Waregem earned him a transfer to Genk for a club-record €7m fee back in the summer of 2019. Since then, Bongonda has fired in 36 goals and laid on 20 more in 111 appearances for the Belgian hotshots. Blue-White won’t demand more than €7m from the Light Blues if they are willing to tie him down, however, the interest from United Arab Emirates might haunt Giovanni van Bronckhorst unless the Glasgow giants step up the chase in due time.

Rangers winger Ryan Kent
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – MAY 01: Ryan Kent of Rangers applauds their fans after the final whistle of the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on May 01, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images). The 4th Official uses images provided by the following image agency: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/) and Imago Images (https://www.imago-images.de/).

Why Rangers Must Pursue A Move

Despite representing Belgium at the U19 and U21 levels, Bongonda switched his allegiance to DR Congo earlier this year. So far he has made 3 senior appearances for the Leopards and his versatility high up the pitch should help him attune to the Rangers‘ squad.

Predominantly a left-winger, the Genk forward has also been effective from the right as an inverted wide attacker. He has depicted creative spark from a ‘number 10’ role, whereas his sharpness on the field makes him a decent ‘False 9′ option. Bongonda’s lack of work rate and defensive contribution has been subject to criticism, but his swift movements, tricky footwork and cut-insides have often kept the opponents on their toes.

The Gers are well equipped down the flanks with Ryan Kent, Ianis Hagi, Scott Wright and Fashion Sakala challenging each other for first-team spots. But the uncertainty over Kent’s future remains a concern, thus highlighting the necessity of a new Wideman. The versatile Congolese has also entered the final year of his Genk contract and a club of Rangers’ stature must grab this opportunity before the window is slammed shut.

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