Glen Kamara: New Rangers contract and why Steven Gerrard is so keen to get it done
When Steven Gerrard recently declared that Glen Kamara is ‘capable of playing for most teams at any level’, it would have been easy to interpret it as just another case of a manager over-egging the pudding when heaping praise on one of his players.
But recent displays from Kamara, culminating in his midfield masterclass for Rangers in their 2-0 Old Firm victory at Celtic Park on Saturday, have given real substance to Gerrard’s belief that the Finnish international has the potential to become an elite performer in one of Europe’s major leagues.
It is certainly little wonder that the Rangers manager is so keen to reward Kamara with an improved and extended contract, something he anticipates being concluded soon.
Kamara, who will celebrate his 25th birthday next week, is coming into the peak years of his career and the Rangers supporters who relished his composed, disciplined and technically outstanding contribution in the win over Celtic should savour his presence in their team while they can.
There is little doubt that interest from other clubs in Kamara will increase exponentially if he maintains the form which has left Gerrard purring with delight so often.
“We love Glen Kamara here,” said the Rangers manager in the aftermath of his role in the 2-1 win over Galatasaray in the play-off round of the Europa League which clinched a place in the group stage of the competition for the Ibrox club.
“He is a fantastic player. We believe Glen is capable of playing for most teams at any level – he is that talented. We want Glen to stay here and be part of it both short and long term.”
Maximising his value
Rangers will also want to ensure they are not short-changed when the time does come for Kamara to move on – the fate which befell his former club Dundee. The nominal £50,000 fee received by the Dens Park club for Kamara in January 2019, after the player had already signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers, now looks like an absolute steal.
Kamara’s current deal does not expire until 2023 but it’s clear he has already done enough to merit enhanced personal terms and an extension which would maximise the hefty profit Rangers stand to make from a shrewd investment.
There is an understandable sense of urgency from Rangers to finalise a new contract for their burgeoning asset before next summer’s Euro 2020 finals in which he will have the opportunity to showcase his talents to an even wider audience.
The perfect blend
Gerrard, of course, will be determined to hold onto Kamara for as long as possible as he continues his quest to shift the balance of power in Scottish football, an ambition which looks all the more tangible after the assured and untroubled victory at Celtic Park which moved Rangers four points clear of the nine-in-a-row champions at the top of the Premiership table.
Just as he had in that success over Galatasaray, Kamara dovetailed brilliantly with the disciplined Steven Davis and industrious Scott Arfield in a three-man midfield which ensured Rangers controlled the tempo of proceedings against a listless Celtic side.
Kamara is willing to receive the ball in any situation, unfazed by even the closest attention of opponents. His control is usually faultless, while a sharp footballing brain allows him to make quick and, more often than not, intelligent decisions while in possession.
He is tactically astute and adaptable, as underlined by the manner in which he offered assistance to left-back Borna Barisic in nullifying the attacking threat of Celtic right wing-back Jeremie Frimpong in one of the key tweaks to Rangers’ system at the weekend.
It wasn’t always this good
While Kamara was described as a ‘Rolls Royce of a player’ by Gerrard after one of his early appearances for Rangers, it hasn’t always been smooth progress for the former Arsenal youngster since his move to Ibrox.
There have been some matches in which he has struggled to move through the gears just as effectively, moments when Gerrard’s high opinion of him has been open to question.
Back in January this year, for example, Kamara was guilty of a basic and needless error when he gifted possession of the ball to Hearts in a dangerous area at Tynecastle, leading to the hosts’ equaliser in a contest they eventually won 2-1 as Rangers’ title challenge to Celtic began to unravel.
But if Kamara suffered at times during what was a general malaise for Gerrard’s side following last season’s winter break, he has established impressive levels of consistency since the start of this campaign.
Place is not assured
It’s a standard he has to maintain in a department of Rangers’ team where the competition for places is intense. As Gerrard himself observed on Saturday afternoon, he found it tough to leave both Ryan Jack and Ianis Hagi on the bench but felt he simply had to go with the midfield trio which had worked so effectively against Galatasaray.
There will be another alternative in that area for Gerrard over the coming weeks when South African international midfielder Bongani Zungu, signed on loan from Amiens on the last day of the transfer window, emerges from quarantine and is available for selection.
The appraisals of Zungu prior to his arrival suggest he operates in a similar style to Kamara, both in his use of the ball and positional flexibility. As it stands, however, Kamara is sure to remain among the first names on Gerrard’s team sheet.
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