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Rangers: Beale could unearth Barisic heir in Kevin Ciubotaru

Amid what has been a largely frustrating start to the campaign for Glasgow Rangers – culminating in the exit of Giovanni van Bronckhorst – one notable positive at Ibrox has been the emergence of a number of academy stars into the first team.

The likes of Charlie McCann, Alex Lowry and Robbie Ure have all been handed a chance to impress in the senior set-up of late, while arguably the biggest success story has been that of 18-year-old Leon King, with the highly-coveted teenager having already made 11 league appearances and featured in all six Champions League group stage games this term.

Having such exciting talent coming onto the scene will no doubt be a huge positive as far as new boss Michael Beale is concerned, with the Englishman likely hoping to unearth even more eye-catching prospects from the youth ranks in the coming months and years.

The 42-year-old could seemingly find the Old Firm outfit’s next gem in the form of left-back, Kevin Ciubotaru, with the 18-year-old already catching the eye in Glasgow after making the move from the London-based Kinetic Academy back in February.

The teenage starlet has already made eight appearances in all competitions so far this term for the club’s ‘B’ team and the U19 side, notably making six outings in the Lowland League from his full-back berth.

The Romanian youth international – who was previously on the books at Austrian side Rapid Vienna – caught the attention in a recent outing against Bo’ness United last week, showing remarkable skill to weave his way through a sea of bodies down the left flank.

Such a moment of genius will seemingly have come as no surprise to Kinetic co-founder, Harry Hudson, who said at the time of the player’s arrival in Scotland:

“Kevin is a Romanian youth international. Plays left back or can play left wing back. Very attack minded. Powerful runner, good dribbler, gets forward well and contributes really well in the offensive phases.

“Defensively he’s worked really hard with us so he covers both those sides of his game. He’s very good aerially, a strong player with an exceptionally high ceiling so looking forward to seeing how he gets on and watching his progress at Rangers.”

That glowing assessment explains just why the Light Blues had moved to bring the Rome-born machine to the club in the first place, with the hope now that Ciubotaru can go on to establish himself in the side in the near future.

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Can you guess this current Rangers star from his career record?

The youngster could seemingly prove to be an ideal heir to experienced asset Borna Barisic at left-back, particularly amid reports that summer signing Ridvan Yilmaz is already eyeing an exit from the club.

Barisic – who joined the Gers back in 2018 – has typically been a reliable figure for the Scottish Premiership side in that time, racking up an impressive tally of seven goals and 41 assists in 180 games to date as a marker of his attacking quality.

With the 30-year-old having just 18 months left on his existing deal – amid previous reports of a departure in the summer – there could seemingly be an opportunity for Ciubotaru to replace the Croatian in the side over the next year or so, with the latter man certainly a figure to keep an eye on as his development continues.