Rangers set to clinch deal for Gedion Zelalem

MARK Warburton will enrich his squad by completing a loan deal for exciting Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem in the next 24 hours but insists the spat with Alan Stubbs over the spending power of Rangers will have no bearing on tomorrow’s showdown with Hibernian.

Zelalem is being tipped to burst into the Arsenal first team next season. Picture: Getty
Zelalem is being tipped to burst into the Arsenal first team next season. Picture: Getty

Zelalem, just 18, is being tipped to burst into the Arsenal first team next season having already had a taste of Champions League football with the Gunners last November.

Warburton is delighted Arsene Wenger has trusted him to continue the development of the midfielder who was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents but was brought up in the USA and has committed to their international set-up. Zelalem joins recently-recruited Tottenham pair Nathan Oduwa and Dominic Ball but he will not be involved tomorrow against Hibs – even if the paperwork is completed.

Warburton said: “Any player coming to the squad needs a chance to get to know the squad and them to know him so he’s not for this Sunday.

“He’s a very talented ball player. He sees a pass, he’s very creative and one of the young gems at Arsenal.

“In my mind he will be a permanent first-team player in the future.

“His development will continue up here. Ibrox is a big plus point. Playing in front of 50,000 will be great for his development.

“We have to make sure that we replicate playing for Arsenal as close as we can and make sure everything is right logistically.

“He’s a creator. He is slight in frame but he is a very clever footballer. He’s got work to do and he is nowhere near the finished article so that’s why he’s coming to us to continue his development and I’m sure it will work out well for us.”

Warburton has a proven track record from his time at Brentford working with loaned players and he believes that it can be beneficial to all parties.

He said: “I’m a huge supporter of the loan market.

“If you get it right it’s of enormous benefit to all concerned.

“I don’t see it as a negative. If we are developing a player and he’s getting better then he’s playing well for us.

“We had Alex Pritchard from Spurs last year and he played 44 or 46 games and now he will kick on to the Spurs first team.

“He developed because of the loan. He is an asset who has increased in value and we got the benefit of his quality for the whole season.

“We have to show these clubs that we can look after their assets but we have good trust.”

Warburton has won all five of his competitive matches and Rangers can pull six points clear of Hibs by winning tomorrow in front of a sold-out Ibrox which would be a significant margin even this early.

However, he was at pains to play the match down.

He added: “It’s just another game. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. You don’t get five points for winning on Sunday.

“It will be a packed house and that’s credit to the players for the results they’ve got, but it will still be three points. We have to recognise it’s a long season and be the best we can be in each match.”

Warburton also insists he will have a drink with Stubbs after the game despite the verbals earlier this week when he reacted to claims that being Rangers manager is easy because of the budget.

He added: “My job is to defend Rangers Football Club and if someone says something derogatory then I will always defend it, but it’s water under the bridge.

“We’ll share a drink post-game as we do with all the managers and coaches.”