There have been some bizarre Rangers transfer tales over the years, although arguably one of the most memorable from Ibrox was that of the infamous ‘Newcastle five’, with the Glasgow outfit having loaned in five players from Newcastle United on deadline day back in February 2015.
Then in the second tier of Scottish football, the Old Firm giants had turned to the Magpies in order to help boost their hopes of promotion, utilising the club’s connections with Mike Ashley to help secure that raft of new additions.
That swoop ultimately backfired as few of those new arrivals were able to make an impact – largely due to lack of fitness or injury – with promising full-back Kevin Mbabu, as well as midfielder Gael Bigirimana, failing to even make an appearance over the next few months.
The former Servette man – who had been signed by the Tynesiders after a successful trial back in 2013 – was unable to force his way into the first-team reckoning despite the Gers’ struggles in their attempts to return to the top flight, admitting his bemusement at not being handed a chance:
“A new manager came up in with his own ideas and I didn’t even play a game or even make the bench. I don’t know why.”
As the 6-foot ace alluded to, the departure of manager Kenny McDowall in March 2015 – and the subsequent arrival of Stuart McCall – did little to help his cause with regards to game time, as he made his return to St James’ Park at the end of the season having only been restricted to outings in the reserves.
Mbabu has since gone on to prove his worth in the years since, with the Scottish giants potentially left to rue their inability to get the promising right-back on the pitch at senior level.
While the 22-cap gem was unable to secure a regular role after returning to his parent club – making just five appearances in all competitions for the Premier League outfit – he has since impressed during spells in his native Switzerland and in Germany.
A move to BSC Young Boys – initially on loan – in 2016 proved particularly fruitful for the talented ace as he went on to provide 21 goal contributions in 101 games for the club in all competitions, winning two league titles in that time and being named Swiss Footballer of the Year in 2018.
That form – which saw him lauded as a “very good player” by coaching legend Jose Mourinho – sparked an £8m move to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2019, while he only recently completed a £6.4m switch to Fulham in the recent window.
Such fees are a marker of the 27-year-old’s rise since being on the periphery at Ibrox seven years ago, with the dynamic ace having also become a key figure on the international stage, featuring in all five of his nation’s games at Euro 2020.
A solid performer who offers real attacking intent – as he notably ranks in the top 1% for dribbles completed among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues – Mbabu has surely left the Gers ruing their previous mistake with regards to his lack of action at the club.