Giovanni van Bronckhorst: Six players new Rangers manager could target

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has already made his first signing as Rangers manager – bringing in veteran Dutch striker Roy Makaay as his assistant at Ibrox.

Gio Van Bronckhorst left Rangers in 2001, but has returned as manager.
Gio Van Bronckhorst left Rangers in 2001, but has returned as manager.

There will be other coaching staff joining his Dutch revolution at Ibrox but he’ll also be looking to his playing squad to build on the league lead set by Steven Gerrard in the Scottish Premiership this season.

Although not quite as emphatically as last term, Rangers lead the table by four points and have a semi-final place booked in the Premier Sports Cup this Sunday – with a key Europa League group stage clash with Sparta Prague to follow next week.

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van Bronckhorst is a man manager who gets the best out of what he has at his disposal according to friend and journalist Guillem Balague, and that will be required for the next two months until the January trading window opens.

Joey Veerman of SC Heerenveen. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

With talk that Rangers could look to cash in on one, or more, of their first team assets, we look at where van Bronckhorst may look to re-inforce his team and add his stamp to the Scottish champions’ squad.

Danilo Doehki

An obvious, and continuous, link. Rangers have already conceded as many goals this season in the cinch Premiership as they did they entire title-winning campaign last term. Defensive re-inforcements are increasingly required, especially with Filip Helander’s long-term absence and the impending African Cup of Nations potentially removing Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey from selection.

Doehki has already caught Rangers’ eye with his performances in one of the meanest defences in the Eredivisie, so van Bronckhorst will be ware of his abilities in his homeland and a simple change of manager at the top won’t mean players previously deemed targets and a good fit for the club are immediately scored off any shortlist.

Danilho Doekhi of Vitesse during the UEFA Europa Conference League group G match between Tottenham Hotspur and Vitesse at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 04, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Named captain for the season at Vitesse, Newcastle were also rumoured to be interested but their new-found wealth and targets may give Rangers more room in the market for emerging talents from abroad.

Joey Veerman

So far so obvious. As Danilo was regularly linked with a move to Scotland, so too was Joey Veerman – but Rangers never pounced over the summer despite a wide and growing expectation they would.

After missing the boat on Abdou Harroui’s summer switch to Serie A – if Rangers are going to raid the Dutch market for a midfielder Veerman is believed to be high on the list.

John Souttar. (Photo by Jose Breton / SNS Group)

Dutch, classy and competitive with a great engine and eye for goal – if it was 1998 we could be describing Rangers manager all over again and though Veerman is a different player, it’s doubtful the speculation with the highly-rated Heerenveen player will dissipate with the latest change in manager.

Billy Gilmour

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While on the subject of midfielders, ending Billy Gilmour’s exile on Carrow Road has been whispered among the fan-base and re-uniting the youngster with his Scotland team-mate Nathan Patterson.

A positive and emotional move for both parties, it would also lower Rangers’ first-team age bracket considerably and give the teenager much needed game-time ahead of the World Cup play-offs – and he knows the set-up well having grown through the ranks before his move to Chelsea.

Billy Gilmour has played more for Scotland than on loan at Norwich City this season. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Gilmour was born ten days before van Bronckhorst left Ibrox the first time round, however he won't be without admirers willing to give him his share of first-team football elsewhere too and even new Norwich boss Dean Smith has expressed his firm plans to include the Scot in action now he has taken over the reins.

John Souttar

Rangers are already said to be tracking the progress of the Hearts defender since his return from injury and, as mentioned, central defence is an area requiring strengthened. Souttar’s return to form has been swift after so long out and with his contract expiring at Tynecastle Robbie Neilson has admitted it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to hang onto one of this season’s stand-out performers and Scotland goal heroes.

There will be others – his Feyenoord title-winning stalwart Jan-Arie van der Heijden is without a club but hasn’t played for almost a year – but Rangers have Jack Simpson and also have Nikola Katic as an option to come in from his loan spell in Croatia after a similarly long spell on the sidelines as another option at the back if Filip Helander’s knee injury recovery is slower than anticipated and van Bronckhorst doesn’t want to look elsewhere.

Loan deals?

He’s got plenty of contacts across the continent, and in his Holland homeland, but after studying the machinations of Manchester City recently, it will not have escaped van Bronckhorst’s notice the plethora of talent beneath the first-team surface at the Etihad campus.

City’s development squad has already fed the likes of Phil Foden and Cole Palmer to Pep Guardiola’s selection pool and there are more ready to make the step up.

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Loan deals for first-team exposure are nothing new and could be an avenue pursued given his recent visits to the club and the quality available. It might suit City too.

Highly rated forwards Liam Delap and Samuel Edozie are among the next in line – or at least they should be – to solve Pep Guardiola’s striker woes, but their breakthrough seasons have been curtailed by injury. A short-term step away three hours up the road could be enough to build them back up and give added competition to Rangers’ attack to see what they’re made of.

van Bronckhorst’s predecessor had varying degrees of success with the same plan when he joined, bringing Ryan Kent, Ovi Ejaria and Shey Ojo from Liverpool – and keeping the flying winger long-term. A similar plan, and success-rate, from another top level Academy would not be a bad thing.

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