Rangers may rue missing out on £10k-p/w maestro on loan, could’ve been a Zungu upgrade – opinion

It hasn’t all been plain sailing to the top for Steven Gerrard’s side, but Rangers find themselves at the summit of the Scottish Premiership, 23 points clear of Celtic.

If you cast your minds back a couple of weeks ago, you could have been forgiven for thinking Rangers had big plans in the pipeline to match their title ambitions.

Now, admittedly not much has changed in terms of the league table, but if there is one criticism that can be directed at Ross Wilson, it’s the club’s inability to make a high-profile signing.

That happened to be a young 19-year-old by the name of Billy Gilmour. If anyone could lure a player of Gilmour’s potential to the 54-time Scottish champions it was Wilson, who also brought in the likes of Jack Simpson and Scott Wright, and a return to his boyhood club via a short-term loan deal seemed to be on the cards.

Ultimately, Chelsea decided to perform a transfer U-turn after the former Rangers starlet impressed new boss Thomas Tuchel in training.

However, had Wilson pushed harder for his signature, those at the Bridge may have been prepared to budge, as the central midfielder has been absent from three of the past four Premier League squads and has not featured since the 3-1 win over Luton Town in the FA Cup.

When asked about Gilmour upon his arrival, Tuchel said: “I have a good impression of Billy.

“He is a very strategic guy, very, very high level of game understanding.

“Very good in the first contact, very, very clever in positioning.

“We will see if he has the physical level to play at the highest level, we will see that, but he is super quick with his feet and decision-making.

“Very, very good in positioning so for me, we have 21 or 22 field players available, and playing in three competitions there is no need for us to get rid of players.”

Since switching Ibrox for the lofty heights of Stamford Bridge, he has settled rather nicely into English soccer, having made 17 senior appearances for the first team. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Bafana-Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu, who has lacked any real confidence under Gerrard and struggled to fill the boots of Steven Davis this season, playing just 149 minutes of soccer.

Had they signed Gilmour, it’s hard to suggest he wouldn’t have been an immediate upgrade on Zungu.

Despite his age, in terms of sheer numbers alone, the Scottish U21 international is light years ahead of the 28-year-old. The highly-rated teenager is currently averaging more tackles and interceptions per 90 across all competitions and commits fewer fouls than Zungu, via WhoScored, whilst he also boasts a better passing accuracy too.

It’s evidence of Tuchel’s verdict that the £10k-a-week earning Gilmour is quick both on the ball and in his mind too, and would have offered a sense of control and discipline to the Rangers midfield. The fact Zungu has barely featured this season says everything about just where he ranks in Gerrard’s plans at the moment, and so the Chelsea youngster would surely have fancied his chances of muscling in ahead of him and getting more game-time.

He could, perhaps, have returned to Ibrox on a short-term basis had the Gers conducted their business earlier in the latest transfer window but they may have missed their chance to sign him as it’s unlikely he will be short of suitors in the summer.

Premier League club Leicester City were among the parties previously credited with an interest in the former Rangers kid and could return for him in the near future.

Gilmour’s arrival in the January window would have given Gerrard an added option in the middle of the park, but Chelsea’s late stance means the Gers have missed out on a talented starlet for the rest of the campaign.

AND in other news, Rangers should unleash Cedric Itten against Hamilton Academical…

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