Cultured Liverpool defender Ben Davies is close to a move to Rangers as Giovanni van Bronckhorst looks set to add a sixth signing in what has been a busy summer already.
John Souttar, Antonio Colak, Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo and Malik Tillman have already been secured in an action-packed couple of weeks.
Here’s the key questions behind the mooted transfer answered.
Why are Rangers looking for a defense?
This move was triggered after Ajax moved to sign Calvin Bassey in a €27m transfer deal. Bassey could also net the club a further 10 percent when he makes his next move as a sell-on was also part of the package. The 22-year-old Nigeria international is nominally a left-back but came into his own as a central defender alongside Connor Goldson in the Europa League run that took Rangers to the final.
What sort of player is Ben Davies?
He’s a left-sided central defender who can also slot in at left-back. He’s described by tactical expert Adam Thornton, who scouted him last season, as “Very good on the ball, strong in the tackle and reads the game well.” He is known for his comfort with him bringing the ball out from defense and his recovery pace. He should be well suited for the aggressive, front-foot defending van Bronckhorst is known to encourage.
Will Rangers use him at left-back?
In short, that’s not clear. But it seems he’s much more likely he’d be used in the middle as a first choice. The 27-year-old would provide a robust option alongside Connor Goldson and as a left-footer he will bring balance to the central defense. Filip Helander, another lefty, has struggled with persistent injuries and Davies’ signature would mean there is now significant depth in that foundation stone department of the team.
Won’t Rangers need to move some players on in that area?
They are likely to want to as it’s quite congested. With Goldson, Souttar, Davies and Leon King all certainties to remain at the club, there are now serious question marks over the futures of Helander and Niko Katic. The Swede is a solid defender when fit, but even if he gets back to top condition he does not have the pace to play in van Bronckhorst’s high-wire system comfortably. Katic has always been physically right for Rangers but has failed to improve sufficiently in his distribution of the ball which will likely be the central issue that clouds his future from him. Jack Simpson is already known to be available should a team show interest. You’d probably expect all three to move on if the club get takers.
Does this mean Rangers will move into the market again at left-back?
Possibly. While Davies can play on the flank the only other player who is natural out there is Borna Barisic. That doesn’t seem enough for a season where Rangers are likely to be fighting on four fronts. Giovanni van Bronckhorst hinted there might be more than one player when he said after the game against Blackpool: “We might lose Calvin so we have to move on and be ready for possible players coming in.” The unique nature of Bassey is represented in his massive price tag, and realistically it might take two players to replace his contribution.
Will the deal go through?
It looks likely. Rangers have made an agreement with Liverpool over a £4m package for the player.
There is interest from other parties and rivals Celtic were close to signing the player just 18 months ago before Liverpool stepped in to blow them out of the water.