According to 90min, Glasgow Rangers are reportedly leading the race to sign Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi, who is currently on loan at Bundesliga outfit Union Berlin.
Awoniyi made his debut for Berlin in the 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach back in September and has since impressed with a string of fine performances.
It’s claimed the 23-year-old has also attracted interest from clubs south of the border as several unnamed Premier League clubs are closely monitoring the situation.
The report adds that Awoniyi has also been subject to tentative interest from Celtic, with Neil Lennon possibly eyeing him as a potential Odsonne Edouard replacement, but Ross Wilson could certainly scupper Celtic’s hopes of getting the player in to replace their star forward if he can steal Awoniyi from right under their noses.
With his contract at Liverpool not set to expire until 2023, Rangers could either attempt to sign him loan for next year or perhaps make a permanent offer, with 90min reporting that the Reds could demand at least £5m for the Nigeria U23 international.
Much has been made of the Ibrox back four this season but it would be remiss to ignore the striker options currently available to Steven Gerrard.
Rangers signed versatile forwards Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe on four-year deals for undisclosed fees in the summer to bolster their already impressive arsenal of Alfredo Morelos, Jermain Defoe and Greg Stewart.
Morelos is widely considered the club’s first-choice striker and for good reason – he broke Ally McCoist’s all-time European goals record earlier this season and has fired home 87 goals in 165 games for the Gers. Morelos previously scored 47 goals in 62 games during his time in Finland.
As per The Daily Record’s Jonathan McFarlane, ‘he always relishes a physical confrontation’ and uses his power and pace to force his way through defences with brute force.
However, Defoe has only made nine appearances in all competitions during an injury-stricken campaign as he approaches the twilight of his career, so Rangers have had to become accustomed to being without his services, whilst Greg Stewart seems destined for the Ibrox exit, and as such, Gerrard may have to start considering his options. And he may have to look no further than Awoniyi, who has been a standout for Urs Fischer’s side this season.
Just like Morelos before him, the Liverpool loanee has started to carve out a decent career for himself as a centre-forward in European football, and he could potentially make the switch to Ibrox should the Govan-based Glaswegian giants make a move to sign him.
Described as an “excellent player with great qualities” by his former teammate Mergim Vojvoda during his time at Royal Excel Mouscron, Awoniyi has established himself as a first-team regular starter in the Bundesliga, bagging five goals and two assists from 10 starts out of 13 top-flight appearances, which shows that he can create chances for others whilst also scoring himself.
Capable of holding the ball up and bringing others into play like Morelos, the 6 ft colossus is only slightly taller than the Colombian – who is one year his senior – and the similarities don’t stop there, either, if you take a closer look at their respective stats.
The Nigerian takes at least one shot per game which is only a fraction fewer than Morelos, while they both miss the same amount of chances on average. He also wins, on average, at least three duels per game, so would be a capable understudy to the Colombian, whilst he wins more battles in the air than Morelos, which implies that he is, in actual fact, a stronger threat in the air than the current Rangers man.
Awoniyi has demonstrated that he is able to score goals consistently at a good level, given his decent goal return for Berlin, and he could add a natural goal threat to Rangers through the middle of the pitch if signed. Furthermore, he still has room to improve at the age of just 23 and there is no reason why, if signed, he couldn’t go on to emulate the success that Morelos has enjoyed in Glasgow.