Several Glasgow Rangers players are away on international duty but one summer signing stood out over the weekend.
According to Goal’s African football correspondent Seye Omidiora, although Nigeria lost 1-0 to Algeria, Rangers defender Leon Balogun was solid in his first start for the Super-Eagles since the African Cup of Nations. Whilst Balogun had originally formed a formidable partnership with William Troost-Ekong as the established centre-back pairing, he found himself dropped from the squad after a run of poor form and fitness.
However, lining up alongside the West African nation’s skipper, he looked like he had a point to prove to Gernot Rohr. In fact, we’d even go so far as to suggest the Super-Eagles should stick with the ‘Oyibo Wall’ for the foreseeable future.
Balogun has been in fine form for Steven Gerrard’s side since his arrival from Wigan Athletic in the summer. And it’s fair to say the free agent has turned out to be an absolute bargain so far.
His ball-carrying, which has become a familiar sight at the Ibrox outfit, once again caused Algeria all sorts of problems. Defensively, he coped fairly well with aerial and ground duels, while he was the first man to the ball on multiple occasions.
If there’s anything Gerrard will have learnt from last year, it’s the fact that strength in depth is so, so important. He could barely contain his delight after Balogun impressed on his first-team debut for the Gers, saying that you won’t win anything without “warrior” like the 32-year-old in your side.
The Nigeria international was somewhat thrown in at the deep end against Aberdeen, although he managed to survive relatively unscathed as the away side came away with a win thanks to a goal from Ryan Kent.
Last season, Balogun appeared in eleven games in the Championship for the Latics, keeping four clean sheets, whilst he averaged 1.3 tackles, 1.2 interceptions and a staggering 3.9 clearances per game, as per SofaScore.
A dependable centre-back is certainly a useful asset for any side. The stats show he looks comfortable on the ball and is dominant at the back, so supporters should be excited to see him in action throughout the rest of the season.
AND in other news, Rangers must keep James Tavernier at all costs amid interest from West Ham…