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Rangers: Ibrox club may have made mistake with Balogun

Glasgow Rangers had a number of big decisions to make at the end of the 2021/22 campaign as a host of key players were out of contract.

Ross Wilson opted to hand new deals to the likes of Jon McLaughlin, Allan McGregor, Scott Arfield, and Steven Davis to keep them around Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s squad for 2022/23.

Meanwhile, the Light Blues sporting director allowed Leon Balogun, Jack Simpson, Andy Firth, and Jake Hastie to leave upon the expiry of their respective contracts.

The decision to bin Balogun ahead of this season was a big clanger by Wilson as the Nigeria international could have played a key role in the team.

Back in May, it was reported that the central defender was interested in remaining at the club and that the two parties were in talks over a potential extension.

However, Rangers then confirmed that he was being released and former Light Blues coach Michael Beale reacted to the news by Tweeting: “Leon Balogun was outstanding for @RangersFC – both on the pitch but also around the changing room. He is a “personality” leader who gives his team mates so much positivity and guidance on a daily basis. Take a bow.”

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Steven Gerrard’s ex-assistant then seized on the opportunity to snap him up on a free transfer for Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship and he has made a strong start to life at Loftus Road – keeping two clean sheets in his first two league starts.

Filip Helander has been out of action since April due to injury and that left Connor Goldson and John Souttar, who signed a pre-contract agreement back in January, as the only senior centre-back options heading into the season.

Wilson reacted to this by snapping up Ben Davies from Liverpool but his, and Souttar’s, start to life in Glasgow in 2022/23 has been worrying. The Englishman has only played three times in all competitions and the Scot has only played once – on the opening day of the campaign – and has been injured for the last 13 matches.

Rangers have conceded 13 goals in their last five games in all competitions and having a centre-back with Balogun’s experience and quality available could have prevented some of those concessions.

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Gio van Bronckhorst coaching on the touchline for Rangers

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The Nigerian enforcer, who was reportedly on £14k-per-week at Ibrox, played 40 matches in the Premiership in his two years at the club and helped the Light Blues to keep 14 clean sheets in that time.

In the 2020/21 title-winning campaign, he averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.14 in 19 appearances – a score only Connor Goldson (7.17) can better among the current crop of centre-backs.

Last season, Balogun averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.96 across ten Europa League appearances – the seventh-best outfield score in the squad – as he made 3.5 tackles and interceptions for the team on their way to the final of the competition.

These statistics show that he was a solid, reliable, performer for Rangers at the heart of the defence, domestically and in Europe, and that is why allowing him to leave was a big clanger by Wilson.

The Gers are now struggling at the back and their new signings in that position are yet to prove their worth, which suggests that keeping Balogun around – as they did with McGregor, Arfield and Davis – for another year whilst fresh arrivals settled into life in Ibrox would have been a shrewd move.

Article title: Rangers: Ibrox club may have made mistake with Balogun

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