Rangers confirmed they had signed a pre-contract deal for Jack Simpson on Thursday, with the Scottish Premiership league leaders due to get their man to Glasgow in the summer.
The former England U21 international was the subject of interest from Steven Gerrard’s side several years ago.
With Connor Goldson’s future uncertain and Rangers short of options at the back following Nikola Katic’s injury, Gerrard will have been delighted to snap up Simpson by way of a Bosman move from Bournemouth.
After coming through the ranks at Dean Court, Simpson is fast approaching the prime of his career and fans will be hoping he can hit the ground running and play a crucial part in what could be their first title defence for many years next season, whilst he still has room to improve at the age of 24.
A quick look at the statistics suggest that while the Englishman has put in a solid shift at the back over the last few seasons, it is his ball distribution that could be of most benefit to his new employers.
Filip Helander and Leon Balogun have done a decent enough job at the back since the start of this season, but his range of passing could be a game-changer for Gerrard’s Gers.
At Bournemouth, Simpson has been averaging 39 passes per 90 minutes, which is a decent enough return, especially when you consider the fact that half of his appearances have come off the bench. Now, this is still some way off the likes of Helander (56.9) and Balogun (53.2), although it’s hard to draw direct comparisons as they are playing in different leagues with different levels of opposition.
However, Gerrard should be encouraged by Simpson’s highly competent range of passing, which should help to paint the full picture. Simpson has an average of 2.8 long balls per game this season, implying that he isn’t afraid to play long-range passes either in the air or on the ground to split defences and create opportunities for strikers to score goals in one-on-one situations with goalkeepers. For context, both Helander and Balogun have managed just 2.4 and 2.2 long balls in the Premiership respectively.
His former Cherries coach Carl Fletcher also believes he has the diversity to adapt to the rigorous demands of playing in the Scottish Premiership. He told BBC Sportsound: “He’s a very down to earth lad. He’s a really good lad and a good character, so I think whenever you have stepped outside of something you have always know there is always a degree of excitement and stepping out of your comfort zone, but I think it’s something he will adapt to no worries, going to Rangers and the size of the club.
“Players going into that environment there is always a transition period but I think Jack will take it in his stride and want to hit the ground running.”
Not only will Simpson, who was dubbed a “natural-born leader” by his former coach Tim Davis, be able to provide cover and competition for Goldson, Helander and Balogun, but he’ll also be able to offer an alternative threat from the back as well.
AND in other news, Rangers can sign perfect Brandon Barker replacement in Rochdale’s Kwadwo Baah…