Rangers currently have an exciting group of young prospects ready to burst through onto the first-team scene at Ibrox in the coming years.
The likes of Leon King, Charlie McCann and Alex Lowry have all had a taste of action at senior level this season, whilst others behind them in the youth ranks are potentially looking at them for inspiration.
However, not every talented youngster makes their way through the system and sometimes players head elsewhere to progress their careers.
This happened to Rangers with central defender Grant Hanley. The current Norwich City captain came up through the academy at Ibrox and made his way to the U17s before the club decided to sell him to English side Blackburn Rovers for a fee Transfermarkt believe to be just £45k in 2008.
He spent a number of years playing for Blackburn as he made 200 appearances for them – playing in the Championship and the Premier League. His form earned him a transfer to Newcastle in 2016 but he only lasted one season and 17 matches before he was sold to Norwich in 2017.
To date, he has played 135 games for the Canaries and is the current club captain for the Norfolk side. At the time of writing (24/03/22), Transfermarkt value him at £3.6m – significantly more than the £45k Rangers brought home for him whilst he was in the youth team.
He has also established himself for Scotland at international level and earned high praise from the current coaching staff. Manager Steve Clarke dubbed him a “big rock” and his assistant John Carver previously lavished the defender with plaudits, saying:
“He’s a beast, he’s an animal. But you know what, off the park he’s low maintenance. He’s one of the nicest guys. He’s up first thing in the morning for breakfast, cheerful, big smile on his face. He’s a gentle giant.
“But from a personal point of view, he’s the linchpin for us – that’s for sure.”
This suggests that he has been catching the eye for his country, whilst he has also been putting in solid performances for Norwich in the Premier League. Despite his team sitting bottom of the table, he has averaged an excellent SofaScore rating of 6.95 across 25 appearances.
He has developed into a solid player over the years and his current form and market value reflect this. Therefore, Rangers will be ruing their call to sell him to Blackburn whilst he was in the youth team and may wonder what life could have been like with Hanley in the first-team at Ibrox had he stayed and helped the club to work their way back up the leagues and to the Premiership.