Who is Clinton Nsiala? Rangers new signing is defender 'alla vecchia maniera' who earned Paolo Maldini approval

Highly-rated French youngster to swap AC Milan for Ibrox

Rangers have secured the signing of AC Milan youngster Clinton Nsiala on a pre-contract agreement.

The 20-year-old defender will join the club on July 1 subject to a successful work permit application and becomes the third arrival of the window following the additions of Brazilian full-back Jefte and Lens winger Oscar Cortes.

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Nsiala is a product of the youth academy of Cercle Paul Bert de Bréquigny in France, where he was enrolled at the age of six beore making the move to Nantes as a 15-year-old. He spent two years in the youth ranks of the Ligue 1 side, earning three caps for France Under 16s, before AC Milan came calling in 2021. Identified by scouts of the Serie A side, it was Italian icon Paolo Maldini, then AC Milan technical director, who sanctioned his move to the San Siro.

New Rangers signing Clinton Nsiala in action for AC Milan U19 against Lazio U19 last month. (Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/AC Milan via Getty Images)New Rangers signing Clinton Nsiala in action for AC Milan U19 against Lazio U19 last month. (Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/AC Milan via Getty Images)
New Rangers signing Clinton Nsiala in action for AC Milan U19 against Lazio U19 last month. (Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/AC Milan via Getty Images)

Used as number six at Nantes, Nsiala was repositioned as a left central defender in Milan. He became a regular fixture in Milan’s Under-19s side and helped them reach the final of the prestigious UEFA Youth League last term, starting nine of the ten fixtures across the campaign.

A call up to the AC Milan first-team squad followed, where he gained valuable experience working under manager Stefano Pioli, while facing the likes of Oliver Giroud and Rafael Leão in training. He also made the bench for several Serie A fixtures although never made a first-team appearance.

He has been described in Italy as a central defender "alla vecchia maniera" - in other words, an old fashioned physical centre-half. French outlet Footmercato described Nsiala as "elegant and very technical, tough in duels and strong in anticipation."

In an article published in November, the also claimed that a three-year contract extension was on the table at AC Milan but the player was keeping his options open due to interest in France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

Rangers believe they have secured the signing of a young defender with huge potential. Nils Koppen, director of recruitment, stated: “We are excited to add a talented young player in Clinton to the squad.

“He joins as an exciting talent who we believe can develop and take his next steps under our manager, Philippe Clement, and his staff. We look forward to welcoming Clinton to Glasgow as we continue to shape the squad ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.”

Nsiala took to social media to express his gratitude to his former coach at AC Milan following the announcement of his move to Ibrox.

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Posting on Instagram, he wrote: "It's time to say goodbye to this team, I'm doing its after three years of personal and professional growth," he wrote via Instagram. “A team that became family and took me as a child and now leaves me as a man. A team and a coach who believed in me until the end.

"Speaking of coaching, Ignazio Abate, if I am what I am today besides my feet and hard work, it's all because of you, who have always believed in me and continue to do so. Proud to wear the AC Milan shirt. Thank you for the support. Thank you to AC Milan. The journey continues. #NzambeInControl."

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