angers on-loan recruit Jon Toral is looking to Mark Warburton to get his career back on track after agreeing a temporary deal that will see the Arsenal midfielder make Ibrox his football home for the rest of this season.
After a successful stint on loan to Birmingham City last season, the 21-year-old midfielder endured an unproductive six months in his Spanish homeland with Granada, where he made only six first-team appearances. Toral believes hooking up with Warburton for a second time in three years can allow him to salvage progress from this campaign and provide the impetus to be pushing for a place in Arsene Wenger’s senior squad next summer.
The Barcelona youth spent the 2014-15 season on loan at Brentford with Warburton in charge as the then newly-promoted Championship club reached the play-offs, and the football ethos that the Englishman promotes made both Toral and Wenger receptive to him signing on at Ibrox.
“The manager was a massive influence in me coming here,” Toral said. “I know from Brentford how good a coach he is. The boss at Arsenal was very keen for me to join Rangers so that was a big help too. They have a great connection with Mark. They respect and admire him and they like the way he plays football. It will help me settle here because I know him so well.”
The ties between Rangers and Arsenal that Toral could use as pointers when deciding to come north were various. They extended to Gideon Zelalem, who Warburton had on loan at Ibrox last year, and former Rangers and Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, who left the London club last summer to become Manchester City joint-assistant under Pep Guardiola.
“Gideon came here last year and things went well for him. I hope that’s the same for me,” Toral said. “Mark and Arsenal have a good relationship. They like Mark’s style of play and the way he works, so that made this decision an easy one for me. Of course, I also spoke at length with Mikel Arteta. He told me that if I had the chance to come here then I simply had to take it. He loved his time here and I know how big a legend he was.”
With his Arsenal contract up at the end of next season, Toral knows that realistically his loan spell with Rangers will be the last such move he can use to attempt to make the breakthrough at a club he joined from Barcelona aged 16.
“It’s my fourth loan club in three years and sometimes it can be difficult But it’s a new challenge and I hope this proves a successful move for me. I know this is a massive club with a massive fanbase. I can’t wait for the first home game to experience that atmosphere that everyone talks about.”