Terry Christie: Why Rangers’ Leon Balogun and Celtic’s Ryan Christie impress me

Old Firm pair have been the early stars of the season

Rangers' Leon Balogun has looked strong, quick and good in the air. Picture: Craig Foy / SNS

In the opening matches of the season two players impressed me. The first of these was Rangers’ new centre-back Leon Balogun.

Against Aberdeen the Berliner looked strong, quick, good in the air and experienced, which is not surprising given that he is 32-years-old and has played the same number of games for the Nigerian national team.

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A requirement of most footballers is that they have a high work rate and run about a lot.

Celtic's Ryan Christie has added strength to his subtle skills. Picture: Craig Williamson / SNS

For centre-backs the opposite is true.

Central defenders need to stay in position, keep the defensive shape and run quickly only when required. Balogun does all that really well and he will add much needed solidity to the heart of the Rangers’ defence.

The other player to catch my eye was Celtic’s Ryan Christie.

I have followed his career with great interest, not only because of the shared surname, but also because his dad, Charlie, was a favourite of mine even though he caused me many miserable afternoons when he was starring for Inverness Caley.

Like his dad, Ryan’s game is about skill and subtlety to which qualities he is, at 25, adding strength with a resultant increase in athleticism.

When Ryan first moved from Inverness to Celtic five years ago it looked as if the step up was going to be too much for him.

And then he went on loan to Aberdeen whose manager, Derek McInnes, gave him the regular first-team experience he needed.

Playing in the Dons midfield beside the talented Kenny McLean was also a huge help to Ryan.

I am looking forward to him maintaining his remarkable rate of progress.

Charlie must be a proud dad.

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