Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has a difficult situation coming up next summer as his two senior goalkeepers, Jon McLaughlin and Allan McGregor, are both out of contract at the end of the season.
McLaughlin (34) and McGregor (39) have shared the goalkeeping duties for Rangers this term and could both be out the door for the 2022/23 campaign unless they decide to extend their stays at Ibrox.
This means that Gerrard could need to find a new number one, or at least a goalkeeper to come in and challenge for the jersey moving forward, due to the aforementioned pair’s advanced ages in footballing terms.
Instead of dipping into the transfer market, though, Gerrard could unearth the next McGregor in 19-year-old USA youth international Aaron Cervantes, who is currently in the academy side. The teenager could be the long-term successor to the Scotland veteran between the sticks, which is why the ex-Liverpool captain should hand him some first team experience in the coming months to prepare him for next season.
Upon Cervantes’ arrival in Scotland, Rangers’ head of academy Craig Mulholland stated that he enjoyed watching the shot-stopper’s ‘excellent progress’ with Orange County, going on to explain how their partnership with the US-based club works.
He said: “We are delighted to welcome Aaron to Rangers and have enjoyed watching his excellent progress with our partners at Orange County.
“If these young talents show outstanding potential, then they can participate in a jointly developed plan to reach one of Europe’s biggest clubs making Orange County one of the most attractive options for the best young players in the US.”
Earlier this year, Cervantes signed his first professional contract with the club and stated that the Scotland international is a player from whom he can learn from, saying: “I think Graeme Smith is a great trainer, he has obviously played with Rangers so training has been good, the guys are cool and it is just good to get a rhythm back.
“Players like Allan McGregor are great to look and learn from and I just want to pick up any key note that I can.”
This means that Rangers fans watching Cervantes in the future could see a bit of McGregor in him, as he could pick up certain techniques and traits by learning from the veteran goalkeeper whilst they are both at the club. The American can use the time between now and the end of the season to soak up as much information as possible from McGregor and McLaughlin before implementing it to work his way into the first team in 2022/23.
Therefore, Gerrard must unleash Cervantes to solve a key problem heading into the next campaign. It could also save Ross Wilson a few million pounds in the transfer market, as there would be no need to sign a replacement shot-stopper if the youngster can make the step up.