Exclusive: Leeds set sights on signing two Rangers players amid key development

Leeds United are closely monitoring Rangers duo Ryan Kent and Connor Goldson ahead of the summer, Football Insider has learned.

The Championship promotion favourites have separate shortlists of targets depending on whether they are in the Premier League or the English second tier next season.

A Leeds source has told Football Insider that playmaker Kent, 23, and centre-back Goldson, 27, are both deemed potentially capable of thriving in the top flight should they succeed in their promotion bid.

United sent scouts to assess the pair in Rangers’ 1-0 Europa League win against Sporting Braga in Portugal on Wednesday.

Kent scored the winner as Steven Gerrard’s side secured a memorable 4-2 aggregate triumph to reach the last 16 of the competition and Goldson also impressed in an outstanding team display.

This comes 24 hours after Leeds once again watched Oxford United midfielder Cameron Brannagan on Tuesday night, as revealed by Football Insider.

Goldson and Kent are widely regarded as two of Rangers’ outstanding players and both are big favourites of Gerrard.

United are keen to assess the pair in the most demanding fixtures, notably in Europe and tough away matches.

They came close to sign former Liverpool man Kent last summer but could not agree a deal before Rangers made him their second most expensive ever signing in a £7million transfer.

Leeds will face strong competition for Goldson, who has also attracted interest from the likes of West Brom and Fulham as well as Premier League big hitters West Ham.

Of United”s current three senior centre-backs, Ben White is on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion and will return to his parent club in the summer while Gaetano Berardi is out of contract at the end of June.

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Rangers Spent Month Working On Deal For Deadline Day Arrival Florian Kamberi

Rangers spent more than a month working on a deal to sign Florian Kamberi before they sealed his loan signing on deadline day in January, according The Athletic.

Steven Gerrard wanted to sign a striker in the winter window, but Rangers took until the last day of the window to sign the Swiss on loan from Hibernian.

Kamberi’s move to Rangers was seen by some as only a late plan, as Rangers got more desperate to bring in a striker for their manager.

The striker scored against St. Johnstone last weekend and led the line against Braga on Wednesday night in the absence of Alfredo Morelos.

However, he move to sign Kamberi in January was one that Rangers had been eyeing for some time.

The Glasgow giants spent four to five weeks in talks with Hibernian before they eventually sealed the deal to sign the striker on loan.

The 24-year-old is hoping to do enough to earn a permanent contract at Rangers, but Gerrard’s side do not have an option to buy in the loan agreement.

Hibernian boss Jack Ross believes it will be hard for Kamberi to return to the club following the comments he made about Rangers being his dream move.

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This Is Where We Lost Rangers Tie – Braga Midfielder Joao Novais

Braga midfielder Joao Novais is of the view that his side lost their Europa League tie against Rangers at Ibrox when they missed a number of chances to kill off the two-legged affair.

An Ianis Hagi led comeback win at Ibrox last week turned out to be crucial as Rangers beat Braga over two legs to progress to the last 16 of the Europa League 4-2 on aggregate.

Ryan Kent scored on Wednesday night in Portugal to secure a 1-0 win for Rangers, but Braga again missed a number of opportunities at home as well.

Novais feels that their finishing has finally cost them the tie against Rangers, but he believes that the real damage was done at Ibrox where they missed the opportunity to kill off the tie.

He conceded that his team fluffed their lines in the face of opportunities at Ibrox last week and they eventually paid dearly for it over the two legs.

“We lacked in finishing and overall, we were quite unfortunate in that respect”, Novais told Portuguese broadcaster Sport TV.

“In Glasgow, we had glaring opportunities and we didn’t take advantage, as we did today. Rangers had a few chances and they scored from one of them.

“We went after the result, perhaps more with the heart than the head but it had to be that way.

“We are extremely saddened by the result but we have to raise our heads.

“The opportunities we had in Glasgow were glaring and we could have come to the second leg, not necessarily qualified, but with a much better result.

“We are leaving with a profound sense of injustice.”

Braga forward Paulinho missed four opportunities to head in the ball against Rangers on Wednesday night.

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Exclusive: Bruce claims Gerrard has one major selection headache – ‘Stevie will be worried’

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has “got a headache” over which player to select at the heart of the defence, according to Alex Bruce.

The former Kilmarnock defender, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, says that the Light Blues’ performances since the win over Celtic have not been up to scratch.

Gerrard has regularly picked Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic as his first-choice centre-backs, although George Edmundson has also been given a runout at times.

With the club’s domestic form taking a dip since the 2-1 win at Celtic Park back in December, Bruce thinks that the boss has a decision to make as to who continues to play at the back.

Speaking about the Rangers centre-back options, Bruce told Football Insider: “It’s been a concern, Stevie will be worried and a bit concerned about how the players have reacted to going to Celtic and having such a great performance and result, since then they’ve been poor.

“They’ve dropped silly points in certain games and conceded sloppy goals. He’s got a headache but I think it’s one of them, what can he really do at this stage of the season?

“He’s just going to have to make the best of what he’s got and try to take the regular pairing of who’s going to play most of the season.” 

Edmundson made just his eighth start for Rangers on Wednesday, playing alongside Goldson on the way to a 1-0 win over Braga in the Europa League.

He has just five Premiership appearances under his belt this season, in comparison to Goldson’s 27 and Katic’s 18.

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Rangers land big windfall and set to crash through £20m barrier

Rangers have landed a seven-figure Europa League windfall as they look to crash through the £20million barrier for their exploits from the competition this season, Football Insider can reveal.

The Glasgow giants have secured another massive financial shot in the arm from upsetting the odds with their victory over Sporting Braga last night in Portugal.

Uefa’s Europa League distribution data shows that Rangers have earned another £930,000 by overcoming the Portugese side in the two-legged tie to reach the last 16 in European competition for the first time since 2011.

Ryan Kent’s memorable strike ensured a 1-0 away win and 4-2 aggregate victory, meaning Steven Gerrard and his players can look forward with excitement to Friday’s 12pm draw in Nyon.

Rangers are already well on course to comfortably exceed the £14m of revenue generated from their European campaign last season, which ended at the group stage.

Rangers have already earned a guaranteed £7m from Uefa’s distribution programme this term.

In addition, Ibrox sources have told Football Insider that Scotland’s second-richest club expect to pocket a further £12m.

This would come from the Scottish clubs’ share of the TV pool, their increased Uefa co-efficient ranking as well as matchday, commercial and merchandise income.

This means Rangers are well on course to secure £20m from Europe this season, a huge boost for a club who have suffered much-publicised financial struggles over the last decade.

In December, Rangers posted their most recent set of financial results, which revealed a turnover of £53.2m for 2018-19.

European football provided more than a quarter of the turnover, and this season’s numbers are set to be even more healthy.

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‘Gerrard has got to get hold of him’ – Danny Mills’ verdict on ‘Unsettled’ Alfredo Morelos

Danny Mills urged Alfredo Morelos to “knuckle down” for Rangers following the striker’s recent struggles in front of goal.

The former England international, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested the 23-year-old has been “unsettled” since returning from the winter break.

Morelos has only scored one goal in seven appearances since he was sent off in December’s Old Firm victory which has coincided with the Gers falling 12 points behind Celtic in the race for the title.

Speculation over the Colombia international’s future was rife in the January window following a strong start to the season in which he scored 11 goals in 17 games.

When asked if the forward’s recent downturn in form was cause for concern at Ibrox, Mills told Football Insider: “There was a lot of speculation over whether he would leave in the transfer window and maybe he wanted to. Maybe that unsettled him. Maybe he is a little bit grumpy because he did not get his big move in the transfer window as well.

“He is clearly a hot-headed, fiery character. He is an emotional player but he has just got to knuckle down.

“Steven Gerrard has got to get a hold of him and get him back to his best if they are to have any sort of chance of catching Celtic.

“But Celtic would have to have a disastrous run until the end of the season for that to happen.” 

Morelos will be missing as Steven Gerrard’s side travel to Portugal to face Braga in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 tie.

The Colombia international suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the competition in the dramatic 3-2 comeback win at Ibrox.

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Lewis MacKinnon Picks Former Serbia International Nemanja Vidic As Favourite Player

Rangers academy centre-back Lewis MacKinnon has named Manchester United legend Nemanja Vidic as his favourite player, while comparing his game to Gers star Ross McCrorie.

The Northern Ireland youngster made the move to Glasgow in the summer, signing a three-year contract with Scottish Premiership side Rangers.

While the defender previously admitted that he grew up supporting the Gers and playing for the first-team is a dream, his favourite player is not associated with the Ibrox club.

MacKinnon revealed that former Manchester United and Serbia centre-back Vidic is his favourite player.

Favourite player would probably be Nemanja Vidic“, MacKinnon told Rangers TV

Being a centre-back, the 16-year-old believes his height is one of his key strengths, but is positive that his pace and leadership skills will stand him in good stead for his future.

I would say my strengths would be my height and my pace and my leadership“, MacKinnon explained.

The Northern Irishman also feels his playing style is similar to Rangers first-team star McCrorie.

[Who do I] compare my game to? I would compare it to Ross McCrorie at Rangers“, the teenager said.

MacKinnon will be hopeful of following in McCrorie’s footsteps and making his senior team debut for the Light Blues soon.

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We Know Hearts Cup Tie Is Massive – Ryan Jack

Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack is hopeful that the Gers can go through to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup when they take on Hearts in a game he makes no bones about being huge. 

The Light Blues missed a chance to get their hands on a trophy when they lost to Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final in December and now have slipped 12 points behind the Bhoys in the title race.

However, they still have two potential pieces of silverware available in the shape of the Europa League and the Scottish Cup, with the domestic competition considered the more likely route to success.

While Rangers will want to go on and win the competition, midfielder Jack is aware of the threat posed by Hearts, who defeated the Gers last month.

The 27-year-old termed Saturday’s game against Hearts “massive”, before stressing the need for Rangers to be on top of their game at Tynecastle.

Come at the weekend, it’s a massive Scottish Cup game“, Jack told Rangers TV.

We have said before it’s a trophy that we want to go on and try to lift.

Hearts away, tough game. As we know, we lost there recently, so it’ll be a big week for us and we will have to be right on top of our game.

Rangers will head into the cup tie on a high after booking their spot in the last 16 of the Europa League by beating Braga 1-0 in Portugal.

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Playing Left-Back Won’t Do Joe Aribo Any Harm – Gary McAllister

Rangers assistant manager Gary McAllister is delighted with how Gers star Joe Aribo has used his abilities to effectively play at left-back, but insists the midfielder will not be used in defence regularly.

The 23-year-old Englishman slotted in at left-back following an injury to Borna Barisic against Braga at Ibrox last week and then went on to play there at St. Johnstone in the second half.

Aribo was involved in goals on both occasions, scoring a goal apiece, but Rangers assistant manager McAllister has revealed that the former Charlton Athletic man will not be deployed in defence regularly.

However, the Liverpool legend was impressed with how the central midfielder put his abilities to good use to effectively play full-back, lauding his talent and athleticism.

McAllister went on to explain why he thinks playing at left-back will not harm Aribo, who he believes gets a bigger view of the game when operating from the back.

Coming from deep, so to speak, he has shown he is a very capable young man“, McAllister told Rangers TV.

The fact is because he is extremely athletic, he can go box to box.

He has not been brought here to be left-back, he is going to be left there higher up the pitch, but it just goes to show that he is a player who has got talent, he is a player in development.

And it won’t do him any harm, just playing behind the play. He has got a nice big picture of everything in front and he has made some really good decisions playing from there and he has been involved in goals and scored goals.

While Aribo might not replace Barisic as Rangers’ preferred left-back, the midfielder has given Steven Gerrard an extra option if needed.

This article was originally posted here

We Showed What We’re About

RYAN JACK reckons Rangers showed what they’re capable of with a quite magnificent performance to defeat Braga in the Europa League tonight.

Jack was outstanding alongside his 10 teammates to deny the competition’s top scorers – and he was just thrilled with the way they went about their business to reach the Last 16 of the tournament.

He told Rangers Media: “I’m just so proud of the team – honestly – a lot of questions have been asked of us domestically and we have taken a lot of stick recently, so to get our chests out and come to a stadium like this against a very good team to put on that type of performance just shows what we are capable of.”

The way Gers kept their shape through the 90 minutes was exemplary, and they carried a threat going forward too.

Jack continued: “We are obviously delighted with that. It could have been three or four, and nobody would have complained. I’m proud of the boys and what a performance – it just shows what can happen if we stick together.”

Jack isn’t bothered who Gers are paired with in Friday’s draw, and added: “We have done something special here for the fans and for the club, and this next draw is about us enjoying it, getting a big side and testing ourselves again against another step-up in opposition.

“I think it’s going to be great for us whoever we get, but we will certainly believe we can do a job.”

This article was originally posted here