Preston North End have confirmed that Glasgow Rangers target Daniel Johnson has signed a contract extension at the club which has put paid to rumours suggesting that he could move north of the border.
Ever since the summer transfer window, Johnson has had to cope with stories linking him to the 54-time Scottish champions.
Though there may have been some truth to the rumours, and a link-up with the likes of Rangers midfielders Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo under Steven Gerrard could have been fruitful, it seems as though the long-running transfer saga has finally run its course.
The 28-year-old Jamaican international has put pen to paper on a deal that will keep him at Deepdale until 2023 after initially rejecting an offer to stay at the club.
“I am relieved, but I am very happy that it is done,” Johnson told the club’s website. “It is put to bed now and for quite a while, it has been what I have focused on, so I can get tunnel vision and focus on my football.
“I have been here quite a while and I am happy to still be here. The goal now is to kick on and start producing what I know I can produce and keep helping the team.
“I have become one of the senior players at this football club and it is about showing that and helping pass on information to the younger boys in the squad.”
There are no two ways of saying this, this news will be a bitter pill to swallow for Gerrard, who has been chasing Johnson for at least half a year.
His decision to extend his current deal has pretty much sounded the death knell for Rangers’ hopes of landing the Jamaican, who has been an integral part of Alex Neil’s side this season thus far, with Ross Wilson missing the opportunity to sign a player who possesses truly game-changing qualities.
Johnson has caught the eye with a series of impressive displays for Neil’s men so far this season, featuring in 22 appearances across all competitions including four goals and three assists to show for his 17 starts.
His fellow Jamaican and former Motherwell ace Chris Humphrey cannot speak highly enough about his countryman having witnessed single-handedly how the live wire has often changed the game with his array of passes and ability to bring the ball forward.
“I would put DJ up there as one of the best number 10s or attacking midfielders I have played with – and I’ve played with some really good players,” Humphrey told The Daily Record. “He is unbelievable and in that league, he would be unreal. He’d be good for Rangers in Europe as well.
“He is excellent technically, scores goals and has pace. He drives forward with the ball and can play a pass. His all-round game is phenomenal. I’d say he’s probably got the best left foot of any player I’ve played with.”
‘DJ’ has proven to be one of Preston’s most creative players in the Championship this season, with the midfielder producing 32.3 passes per game at a success rate of 79.1% – bettered only by four other players, including Ben Pearson (88.5%) and Scott Sinclair (80.2%).
Of those key passes, he has provided three assists with a combined total of six-goal contributions – only Sinclair (8) has contributed to more goals this season, per WhoScored. For context, that’s more than struggling Bafana-Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu, who has yet to find the back of the net in 14 appearances for the Gers.
Had Wilson been brave enough, or keen enough, to pull the trigger, who knows what Rangers would have been able to achieve with Johnson in their ranks.
He certainly had the qualities to bring an extra dimension to Gerrard’s side but alas, the Rangers boss will need to focus on other targets if he does want to improve his midfield options.