Glasgow Rangers have been given a major boost after Leon Balogun confirmed he is close to triggering a clause in his contract that will extend his stay at Ibrox, but the Gers must not rest on their laurels and ensure he puts pen to paper on a new deal.
Balogun made his Rangers debut under Steven Gerrard and has gone on to make a further 22 appearances for the first team since he first arrived from Wigan Athletic in the summer.
The 32-year-old has taken full advantage of free agency so far, establishing himself as a key player in a Gers side that have stormed to the top of the Scottish Premiership.
“Obviously, it is under some confidentiality. But it is getting closer and closer. Let’s just say I am quite confident that my time with Rangers is not over after this season.”
However, the versatile defender’s current deal is still set to run out at the end of this season, with the option for a further year, and the 54-time Scottish champions should do all they can to ensure he doesn’t walk away for free when the transfer window re-opens this summer.
Gerrard has chopped and changed his formation between games over the past few months, with Balogun and Filip Helander battling to bag a spot in-between Borna Barisic and Connor Goldson.
But it’s becoming clearer by the day that Balogun, who has played at both centre-back and right-back in his career, is essential to their chances of domestic and European success this season.
The Nigerian is expected to deputise for the injured James Tavernier and provide width on the right when Rangers go forward before dropping back and making up the rest of the back four when they lose possession to the opposition.
Despite his age, the former Brighton defender has shown he can mix it with the very best – a WhoScored match rating of 7.03 ranks him the tenth-best out of the entire Rangers squad, above the likes of Steven Davis and Ianis Hagi.
Compare that to Helander’s low 6.0 rating via SofaScore when he was at fault for at least one of the three goals they conceded against Royal Antwerp in the Europa League, it’s clear how much they lost out by starting the Swede instead.
Balogun has continued to impress for Gerrard’s side this season, averaging 1.1 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 1.6 clearances per 90 in the Scottish Premiership, via WhoScored.
Given his obvious quality, it is difficult to comprehend the Gers letting the veteran leave anytime soon, as he has become virtually undroppable at Ibrox Stadium following his arrival from the Latics last July.
His 22 appearances in all competitions are the second-highest out of all centre-halves behind Goldson and more than both Helander and George Edmundson.
He has already established himself as a firm favourite under Gerrard in such a short space of time, and for that reason alone, Ross Wilson shouldn’t even begin to think twice before offering him a new contract as it’s surely a no-brainer at this stage.
AND in other news, Why Rangers shouldn’t entertain an offer for Calvin Bassey…