The January transfer window is just around the corner and Rangers manager Gio van Bronckhorst will have an opportunity to bring in players of his own for the first time.
It will be an interesting month for players coming in and out of Ibrox as the Gers have a number of issues when it comes to expiring contracts.
Leon Balogun, Connor Goldson, Scott Arfield and Steve Davis are among those set to leave for nothing next summer, whilst Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and Joe Aribo are just a few of those out of contract in 2023.
Van Bronckhorst is facing the prospect of losing his two first-choice goalkeepers in 2022 as Allan McGregor and Jon McLaughlin are both on the list of players whose deals expire next summer. The former turns 40 in January and the latter will be 35 come the start of next season, which suggests that the timing could be right to bring in a younger shot-stopper.
According to TEAMtalk, the Gers are currently eyeing up West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone. They could strike a pre-contract deal for the England international in January that would see him arrive at Ibrox for nothing before the start of the 2022/23 campaign.
Van Bronckhorst must ensure that a deal is done for the 28-year-old as the club will be in a nightmare situation if they get to next summer with McGregor and McLaughlin leaving without a replacement lined up.
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards previously hailed the shot-stopper’s character, saying:
“I’m delighted Sam Johnstone has been rewarded for his outstanding season with West Brom.
“Sam was a team-mate of mine at Aston Villa and one of the nicest guys you could wish to meet, a wonderful professional who got a proper grounding at Manchester United.
This suggests that the gem has the personality to fit in with what Rangers should be wanting from their players off the pitch. Richards’ comments indicate that he would not cause the club any trouble with his behaviour on or off the field, which could make him a reliable figure inside and outside of the dressing room.
Ex-Baggies boss Sam Allardyce dubbed him “one of the best” last season in the Premier League and he has continued his form in the Championship this term. He has saved 70% of the shots against him whilst conceding just 0.68 goals per game for the Baggies.
McGregor, meanwhile, has saved 74.2% of the shots against him in the Premiership and 63.6% in the Europa League whilst letting in 0.75 and 0.80 goals per game respectively in the two competitions. This suggests that there may not be too much of a difference in ability between the two players, although it is impossible to gauge the exact difference in quality between their respective divisions.
What Johnstone does have over the Gers veteran, however, is that he is 11 years younger than the Scot. That means that Rangers could bring him in to be their first-choice shot-stopper for many years to come, with his arrival avoiding a nightmare scenario for van Bronckhorst.