Oldham Athletic defender George Edmundson is a key Rangers signing target. Joel Sked examines why that is the case.
Transfer season. From newspaper exclusives to questionable websites, a host of players are linked with moves to Scottish football, namely Celtic and Rangers.
Many players, and managers, have their names mentioned in relation to the Old Firm simply to increase their exposure, to make it known that they are available or their agent is wanting to increase the value of his player in the media.
Much of the speculation has to be treated as such and taken with a pinch of salt.
That, however, is not the case with Oldham Athletic's George Edmundson.
Rangers have reportedly had three bids for the centre-back rejected by the Latics - it is clear he is one of the club's key targets.
Having released veteran Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley and seen Joe Worrall return to parent-club Nottingham Forest, it leaves boss Steven Gerrard with only two out-and-out centre-backs in Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic; Ross McCrorie is capable of playing the position but is more effective at the base of the midfield.
Therefore the defence needs restocked with at least two centre-backs.
It is easy to see why the club are keen on Edmundson after another impressive season in English League Two.
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"It’s been a standout year for the 21-year old," according to the Oldham Evening Chronicle, "who came through the ranks of Oldham’s academy before making his first team debut back in 2015."
Already, in the nascent stage of his career, he has packed a lot in. Short loan spells with Ramsbottom United in the English seventh tier and Alfreton Town in the sixth step on the league pyramid were followed by a temporary switch to Fylde in the National League.
He experienced football at the coal face, where it can be at its most primitive, before making an assault on the Oldham first team.
The 10-game spell with Fylde during the first half of last season, before being recalled due to injuries, gave him perfect preparation for getting into the XI at his parent club in in the latter stages of the campaign, playing every minute of the final nine games.
His performances were such that he started this term and subsequently it was no surprise when he was handed a two-year contract extension in August.
Then Oldham boss Frankie Bunn told the club's website: “His enthusiasm, dedication and playing ability has warranted this new deal.
“For other youngsters at the club they can aspire to what George has done, he has worked hard to do it.
“I have told him he can’t rest on his laurels, he’s not the finished article yet and there is more to come.”
That mindset and personality, the strive to improve, was evident.
He formed a formidable partnership with experienced defender Peter Clarke and didn't allow the volatility of working under three different managers, including Manchester United legend Paul Scholes, shake him.
Edmundson remained a reliable presence throughout, playing every single minute until the penultimate game of the season when he was taken off after 55 minutes.
Sometimes a player comes along you just know, even at a young age, that they are a leader.
Oldham fans labelled him a "future captain" when he penned his new deal, while teenage team mate Tom Hamer praised Edmundson when they were paired together at centre-back.
He said: "George talks to you a lot so it’s good.”
Around the club his leadership skills are held up as a standard, a professionalism which more rugged colleagues could learn from.
It wasn't just around Boundary Park where his talented and influence was noted and appreciated. He was picked in the EFL League Two team of the season. The other ten players came from teams who were either prompted or reached the play-offs. Oldham finished 14th.
Understandably, Rangers face competition from a number of English Championship clubs for his signature, but it is the Ibrox side who have been most determined in their pursuit with three offers rejected despite the player handing in a transfer request.
Oldham, quite rightly, are trying to eke out every penny from his sale, while Rangers see the potential. Not only will they be buying a player who is ready for the first team but also one who will develop and could lead to a significant profit.
It may be early stages but it looks like a transfer which could turn into a saga, but it is one where the patience and frustration could prove worthwhile.