Rangers next sporting director candidates: Ex-Celtic transfer guru, former Bayern chief, fans' choice

Ross Wilson's move to Nottingham Forest has left Rangers with a major decision to make over what to do with the now vacant sporting director position.

The Ibrox club have operated under such a structure since appointing Mark Allen to a director of football role in 2017. When he left two years later, they turned to Wilson, luring him from a similar post at Southampton.

Wilson's return to the Premier League opens the door to a possible new arrival but Rangers could instead decide to simply restructure their current football department with Michael Beale already taking a more hands-on role in recruitment.

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One name which could come from within the current Ibrox ranks is John Park, who joined the club last year in a senior scouting role having previously spent nine years as recruitment chief at rivals Celtic.

Former Celtic recruitment chief John Park is currently in a head scouting role at Rangers.Former Celtic recruitment chief John Park is currently in a head scouting role at Rangers.
Former Celtic recruitment chief John Park is currently in a head scouting role at Rangers.

During his time at Parkhead, which ended in 2016, Park helped identify future stars such as Virgil van Dijk, Fraser Foster, Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele. He has also been linked with the Hibs director of football role with the Easter Road club planning to make an appointment this summer.

If Rangers were to go down the former player route, then ex-Ibrox midfielder Christian Nerlinger may come under consideration. The 50-year-old has been working as a player agent for the past nine years after leaving his sporting director position at Bayern Munich in 2012.

Nerlinger previously turned down the chance to take up a football operations officer role at Rangers working alongside then manager Ally McCoist when the club was still in the Scottish Championship. However, the former German international could be tempted back this time around now that Rangers are back competing at the top end of the Scottish Premiership and in European competition.

Another former Rangers player who appears to be emerging as the fans' choice to replace Wilson is ex-Scotland defender David Weir. The 52-year-old - who won eight major honours and reached the final of the UEFA Cup during a five-year spell at Ibrox before retiring in 2012 - is currently technical director of Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, having risen through the ranks at the Amex to become a key figurehead.

He has already had a spell on the backroom staff at Rangers, where he was assistant manager to Mark Warburton until the pair were sacked in 2017, but his emotional pull to the Ibrox club could tempt him back north of the border.

Another ex-Ger who has experience of such roles on the other side of the pond is Claudio Reyna. The former USA international stepped down as Austin FC sporting director in January to take up a technical advisor role at the MLS club, having previously spent five years as New York City FC sporting director. But given the blackmail scandal that engulfed the former USA international last year regarding the treatment and playing time of his son Gio at the World Cup, it may not be the right time to making an approach for the American.

Paul Mitchell is another name already known to Rangers having been interviewed for the director of football position in 2017. His impressive CV includes stints at Tottenham, RB Leipzig and Monaco, where he is currently Sporting Director. He’s set to end his time with the Ligue 1 club this summer and could be an option for Rangers to re-explore.

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Out of work former Premier League directors of football could also be an avenue to explore. Michael Emenalo was regarded as a key figure in the success of Chelsea during the Roman Abramovich era having overseen the scouting and transfers of key players including Juan Mata, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, N'Golo Kanté, Eden Hazard, and Cesc Fàbregas. He was also credited for the development of the Chelsea Academy (CFC Academy) and Chelsea Women and has not held a post since leaving Monaco in 2019.

Rangers may also consider a move for Michael Edwards, who quit his role as Liverpool’s sporting director last year, saying he wanted a break from the game. But having been linked with Manchester United and approached by Chelsea, Edwards may fall into the unattainable category.

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