'Do me a favour' - John Hartson's damning verdict on Rangers' January signing

The negligible impact made by Rangers loanee Aaron Ramsay is a source of deep regret for his fellow Welshman John Hartson - both in respect of the World Cup play-off hopes for his homeland later this month and his personal regard for the midfielder.

But the former Celtic striker believes the hullabaloo that surrounded the 31-year-old’s arrival from Juventus on transfer deadline day had no basis in reality. Indeed, Hartson offered a damning “do me a favour” verdict to the claims he heard made then that Ramsey could be the Ibrox club’s most illustrious capture since they recruited Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup in the 1990s.

“I’m very disappointed and it has been disappointing for him, really,” said the 46-year-old of the Welsh captain, who has made only one start for Rangers - in their Scottish Cup win over Annan four weeks ago - as he has racked up only 90 minutes of football in being beset by the sort of niggly injuries that have dogged him throughout his career.

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“I wanted him to play, do well, so that we get him for Wales in-form at the end of the month. Wales have two massive games [potentially, with a semi-final against Austria and possible final against Scotland]. Aaron has always done the business for us. At Rangers now I don’t think it’s an issue with his general fitness, I just think it’s knocks. Because he can play up here, Aaron can play. But he’s obviously not ready with his injuries and I’m disappointed for him more than anything.

Aaron Ramsey in substitute action for Rangers during the 4-2 win over Borussia Dortmund in Germany. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“They [Rangers] had big hopes that he would be their best signing since Laudrup and Gascoigne. Laudrup and Gascoigne? They are superstars, the best players to ever come to Rangers. But that’s what some people were saying, that it was like Laudrup and Gascoigne. What? Do me a favour. Laudrup and Gascoigne were a different level. Aaron has been a world class player, but he’s not in that elite. Not in that elite at all. Not because of his age, or injuries. He was never at that level. We’re talking Brian Laudrup. We’re talking Gascoigne. But for me it’s just disappointing for him personally because I like Aaron, he’s a good lad.

“I have watched him a lot for Wales over the last 10 years. He was at his peak at the Euros in 2016 when Wales got to the semi-final. It’s just not worked out for Rangers and not worked out for Aaron. But I think, with all due respect, when he first came in everyone got excited. He was going to kick on, he was going to help Rangers get over the line and retain the title. But it’s just not worked, unfortunately. They’ve not been able to get him up to speed to get him on the pitch.

“That’s disappointing for him because Aaron would have come to Scotland thinking he could resurrect his career here. And that’s the reason Juventus sent him to Rangers, so he could get games and they could sell him. If he came and played 10 games, and did really well, there could be big interest around him again and they could get rid of him. Because he’s obviously going to be sold or paid up. That’s the only reason they’ve let him out. I would imagine he had other offers but he chose Glasgow Rangers, which was a great coup for the club. But it just hasn’t worked out for the club, or him.

“There are eight [league] games to go so if they can get him on the pitch… But what can you expect of him now? Can he come in and be the player who makes the difference? I think the title is still in both clubs’ hands. There are two Celtic v Rangers games to go. If Celtic win all their games they win the league, and it’s the same for Rangers. You simplify it that way, but then I think there will be a few twists yet, I really do.”

John Hartson previews the Scottish Cup tie between Dundee United and Celtic, which will be shown live on Premier Sports. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

John Hartson was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Dundee v Rangers this Sunday from 3.30pm and Dundee United v Celtic this Monday from 7.15pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £12.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.

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