Juninho Bacuna: How hungry midfielder will be ready for Rangers role

Just short of one year ago, Rangers were credited with an interest in Juninho Bacuna. The midfielder admits that ever since he has kept his eye on Rangers – and the monitoring was mutual.

Juninho Bacuna of Huddersfield Town runs with the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Huddersfield Town and Stoke City at John Smith's Stadium on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Juninho Bacuna of Huddersfield Town runs with the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Huddersfield Town and Stoke City at John Smith's Stadium on January 30, 2021. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

A deal that has been a year in the making, the Curacao international was promptly paraded around packed stands at Ibrox during the interval of a 1-0 Europa League play-off win over Alashkert.

While Bacuna watched Rangers win a league title without him after links last October, Rangers followed his progress and expiring contract at Huddersfield Town before moving on Thursday, and a year before its expiry for an ‘undisclosed fee’.

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Yaya Sanogo and Juninho Bacuna. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

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At 24, Bacuna fits the age profile Rangers have generally moved for when recruiting prospects to develop in the first team – three of this year’s arrivals Scott Wright, Jack Simpson and Fashion Sakalah are also the same age.

Rangers now have plenty of midfield options too. With Steven Davis entering his twilight football years, Glen Kamara frequently courted and Ryan Jack still recovering from injury, Steven Gerrard has aimed to reduce the burden on recent years’ frequently used trio which Bacuna, John Lundstram and, it is hoped, Nnamdi Ofoborh, can contribute to.

Hungry

Bacuna played centre midfield mostly for Huddersfield last term with fleeting moves into the number ten role. Capable of filling in at full-back he also played wide left in three CONCACAF World Cup qualifying wins earlier this year for Curacao.

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Juninho Bacuna of Huddersfield Town. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Prior to that he was a Netherlands under-19 cap and FC Groningen received in excess of £2.5m for Bacuna three years ago to move to the Premier League but his development and promise shown in his birth-country wasn't quite realised as the Yorkshire side was relegated.

That has given the 24-year-old more to prove. He had a determination when moving to England despite interest from bigger clubs in Holland and then Huddersfield manager David Wagner said “he's a young, hungry player that has already played a lot of football for someone of his age.”

Three years on that appetite remains. "I’m hungry to play and I think with the style the team is going to play will suit me it and I think I can be on my best here,” he told Rangers TV after signing.

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Role

Wagner also described Bacuna as offering “all the aggression of a defensive midfielder and the technical skills and mobility of an offensive midfielder.

His three years as Terrier though brought only 12 goals, five last season and two assists as the Yorkshire side finished 20th in the skybet Championship.

Gerrard though has hopes for the dynamic midfielder – “one that the fans can really look forward to watching”.

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With his attributes, Bacuna looks capable of slotting in, quite quickly, to the midfield trio favoured by Gerrard and linking with the front three, potentially freeing Aribo or Hagi for their more advanced roles, or reprising Lundstram's more recent role.

That may seem a logical move, however Gerrard has hinted he could see his new man more advanced.

"He is an attacking midfielder, likes to get forward, likes to make things happen in the final third, he has got a good range of passing. A powerful boy, he likes to take a shot on, he can create and score.”

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