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Three players Rangers should target in the summer transfer window

Ruari Macneil

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Rangers were met with the reality check of their season last Sunday as they were knocked out the Scottish Cup at the semi-final stage after a hammering from arch rivals Celtic.

Compared to the last Old Firm derby at Ibrox, the Gers offered little in terms of fight and produced an embarrassing display, much to the frustration and anger of their loyal fans.

Clearly there is a lot of work to be done at the club in terms of bridging the gap between themselves and Celtic and, despite a feeling the gap had begun to decrease, last Sunday was a reminder of exactly where both clubs are right now.

It seems unlikely Graeme Murty will retain his job beyond the end of the current season. In fact, he may not even be given the chance to see out the remaining league games. Whoever comes in will face the huge task of deciding which players to let go, and which players to bring in to the club to mount a stronger challenge next time round.

With issues to address in all areas of the pitch, the following three players are those Rangers should definitely be targeting in the rapidly approaching summer transfer window. The Gers need characters, those who appreciate the club’s values, and each individual would add a great deal of quality as the board look to build a new spine to take the club to the next level.

John Souttar

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Hearts youngster John Souttar has become one of Scotland’s most highly rated centre-halves in recent times. If it was not for the likes of Jack Hendry and Scott McKenna, Souttar would probably be making his mark on the senior Scotland side but, instead, he has carried on his development with the under-21s.

Aged only 21, Souttar has become a stalwart in Craig Levein’s side, and has already amassed 128 appearances in Scotland’s top flight since his debut as a 16-year-old with Dundee United in 2013 and is as experienced as they come at his young age.

Despite being from Aberdeen, as a Scot the defender will be well aware of the prestige of Rangers and would no doubt relish the opportunity to turn out at Ibrox each week. Having lost David Bates, and with the heart of defence being a real weakness in the side, Souttar would make a fine addition in the summer.

Steven Naismith

(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Another current Hearts player, Norwich-owned Steven Naismith would be an obvious choice for Rangers given his long-standing history with the club.

The 45-capped Scotland international was one of the many players who decided to jump ship when the club entered liquidation and was sent to the bottom of the SPFL, but this does not mean he would not be interested in a return to his boyhood club.

As last Sunday suggested, Rangers need characters, and Naismith is the perfect mould to help the rest of the Gers squad understand exactly what it means to don the famous blue shirt. Had Naismith been playing at Hampden last weekend, you could bet their performance would have been infinitely better, with his added passion and determination to succeed for the club.

Aged 31, the ex-Everton star still has a lot to offer and his move to Hearts in January suggests he is not driven by money or glamour whatsoever. With his Rangers background, he is about as high calibre a target the club could realistically capture and should definitely be worth considering.

Ikechi Anya

(Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Glasgow-born Scotland international Ikechi Anya would be a magnificent capture for Rangers and would add a new dimension to the attack with his pace and prowess. Anya may be slight but has proved himself time and again to be a real handful for full-backs.

The 30-year-old Derby County star is also extremely versatile and can play just about any position down the flanks, from full-back to wing-back to attacking winger.

With nearly 30 Scotland caps and a season in the Premier League under his belt, Anya is also extremely experienced when it comes to top-level football and, like Naismith, would add a great deal to the squad both on and off the pitch.

With his international career having somewhat stagnated in recent times, the opportunity to play in his homeland for the first time, and in his home city at that, would be a terrific prospect for Anya, and a great way for him to see out his final years in football.

Due to his nationality, Anya is another top quality footballer who would be both a realistic and affordable option for Rangers this summer.

Life long lover of sport in general with a soft spot for football. A consistent defender of Scottish football as a spectacle. Desperately waiting to see my country qualify for a major tournament.

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Rangers

Martin Skrtel wage issues reveal the difficulty of the Rangers rebuild

Max Cohen

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Martin Skrtel
Photo: Getty Images

In the weeks following Steven Gerrard’s appointment as Rangers manager, optimism about an anticipated wave of big-name signings filled the club.

One such high-profile target was Gerrard’s former teammate Martin Skrtel, an experienced and fearsome centre-back who was linked with a move to Ibrox.

Yet, according to recent reports in The Guardian, wage issues seem set to scupper the Slovakian’s move to Glasgow, revealing the difficulty of reshaping Rangers while operating on a limited budget.

Skrtel’s agent Karol Csonto was quoted in the Guardian claiming the Scottish club simply did not have enough money to satisfy the defender’s exorbitant Fenerbahce wages.

“When there is only a small difference then you can find a solution,” Csonto said. “But in this case, the salary of the player in Turkey is four or five times more than what Rangers could offer That makes it impossible.”

(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

These comments are certainly the sign of a money-hungry agent (surely Skrtel is willing to take a wage-cut to play at such a historic and well-regarded club), but also reflect the harsh reality of modern football.

Clubs such as Fenerbahce have the luxury to throw around ridiculous sums of money to attract aging stars like Skrtel, while Rangers do not have such funds and are conscious of operating with Financial Fair Play guidelines.

In this case, monetary restrictions look set to derail the transfer of the former Liverpool player, which would have come as a welcome addition of top-class European experience to the Rangers backline.

The unfortunate transfer saga comes as an uncomfortable lesson for Rangers supporters expecting an immediate turnaround under Gerrard, as the club cannot simply buy every single target it admires.

Progress will be more incremental under the Liverpudlian, and a focus on younger starlets Gerrard managed while at the Liverpool academy may prove more realistic targets than big names such as Skrtel who carry bloated contracts and greedy agents.

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Rangers

Steven Gerrard tempting Lucas Leiva to Rangers would be huge coup

The Brazilian midfielder is being linked with a move to Glasgow for a second summer.

Josh Kerr

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Lucas Leiva
Photo: Getty Images

When Steven Gerrard was unveiled as the new Rangers boss over a fortnight ago, fans finally believed they may have found the man to rekindle the ambition and hunger that had been lost at the club in recent years.

The former Liverpool legend has already been linked with brining a number of high profile names to Ibrox and his former teammate Lucas Leiva is the latest being linked with a move to Glasgow.

According to the Scottish Sun, Gerrard is considering making a move for the Brazilian midfielder, who he played alongside across a spell of eight years at Liverpool.

Reports also confirm that Leiva is keen on the idea of being reunited with his former captain, and considering his vast Premier League experience, the midfielder would likely prove a strong addition for the Gers.

(Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Despite Lazio being reluctant to sell their player, the 31-year-old needs to make the most of his final years in football and the chance of being part of Gerrard’s revolution in Scotland could just be enough to convince him to leave Serie A.

The former Liverpool man made 346 appearances for the Merseyside outfit and quickly became a fan favourite for the club. He also has 24 caps for Brazil to his name and, despite not being proven in front of goal, he still has enough in the tank to be an effective asset in Scotland.

Should Rangers manage to sign Leiva, it would be a huge statement.

Luring a proven player away from Serie A would be surprising enough, but considering Brendan Rodgers had hoped to bring him to Celtic just a year ago, it would show just how big an impact Gerrard is already having on the balance of power between the two Glasgow sides.

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Nottingham Forest

Difficult Rangers spell puts Jason Cummings’ Nottingham Forest future in doubt

The 22-year-old made just nine starts at Ibrox.

Josh Kerr

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Jason Cummings
Photo: Getty Images

Jason Cummings’ loan move from Nottingham Forest has come to an end, with the striker returning to his parent club from Rangers. However, his time at Ibrox has failed to give supporters a reason to demand he is kept in Glasgow on a permanent deal.

According to the Scottish Sun, Forest boss Aitor Karanka believes Cummings no longer has a future at the club due to his lack of game time in Scotland. He made just nine starts in all for the Gers, coming off the bench on a further nine occasions in a disappointing loan spell.

The 22-year-old striker arrived at Ibrox with lofty expectations, but he failed to establish himself as a regular in the Gers’ first team and spent more time on the sidelines than he did on the pitch.

The Scotland international netted six goals in total but, despite showing signs of his promising talent, he didn’t demonstrate why new manager Steven Gerrard should acquire his services on a full-time basis.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Cummings was brilliant for Scottish Premier League outfit Hibernian before his move to Forest in the summer of 2017, for a fee, according to the Nottingham Post, to be in the region of £1 million.

Gerrard was brought in to improve on the quality already at the club and, considering the Liverpool legend’s name and reputation, he will feel he can bring in better players than Cummings.

This must now leave the striker worrying about his future with his parent club, who could quite conceivably be tempted to part company with a player who has only scored once in 14 appearances for the two-time European Cup winners.

Once one of Scotland’s most promising strikers, Cummings is facing exile from both of his represented clubs and will be seriously worried as to what the future holds.

Despite struggling to make an impact for the Gers, the two-time Scotland international possesses undeniable talent. If Rangers feel he hasn’t justified a permanent deal, another loan move could bring the best out of the once-promising striker.

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