Ovie Ejaria believes his loan move to Rangers under Steven Gerrard will enhance his ultimate ambition to become a first team regular for Liverpool.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder yesterday tied up both his short and longer term future when he signed a new extended contract with the Anfield club and also agreed to join Rangers on a season-long loan.
Subject to international clearance being secured, Ejaria becomes the first of Rangers’ summer signings wholly instigated by new manager Gerrard. Fellow recruits Scott Arfield, Allan McGregor and Jamie Murphy were all in the pipeline before Gerrard’s appointment.
Ejaria, who was part of the England squad which won the Fifa under-20 World Cup last year, has made eight first team appearances for Liverpool so far, all of them in the 2016-17 season.
The London-born youngster, who began his career at Arsenal’s academy before moving to Liverpool in 2014, is highly regarded by Anfield manager Jurgen Klopp, who was keen to secure him on a new contract before sanctioning another loan move.
Ejaria spent the second half of last season on loan at Sunderland, scoring once in 11 appearances as they were relegated from the English Championship.
He is hoping for a more fulfilling experience over the next 12 months with Rangers as he looks to progress his development further under Gerrard, the former Liverpool captain and youth coach.
“I’m just going to keep working hard and see where that takes me,” said Ejaria. “I really want to be a regular at Liverpool, a massive club, so that’s my aim.
“It’s a really great feeling [to sign the new contract]. I’ve been at Liverpool for four years now and I’m just really happy to extend my stay here. It’s a massive club, the club’s doing really well at the moment, so it wasn’t a hard decision at all.”
Rangers are now closing in on their fifth signing of the Gerrard era with their pursuit of Brighton central defender Connor Goldson approaching a conclusion.
A fee in excess of £3 million has been agreed between the clubs for the 25-year-old former Shrewsbury Town player who found first team opportunities limited in the Premier League last season due to the form of Brighton’s first choice central defensive pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy.
Goldson is understood to be enthused by the prospect of working under Gerrard and Rangers are hopeful personal terms can be agreed with the player within the next few days.
Gerrard will meet his full first team squad for the first time when they resume pre-season training at the end of next week and the former England captain has now confirmed the full composition of his backroom staff at Rangers.
As previously indicated, former Scotland and Liverpool skipper Gary McAllister becomes assistant manager. Three other former Liverpool employees are following Gerrard to Glasgow – Michael Beale has been named first team coach, Tom Culshaw is technical coach and Jordan Milsom becomes head of performance.
Colin Stewart, son of the former Rangers and Scotland goalkeeper Jim, remains on the staff as first team goalkeeping coach, a role he filled last season after stepping up from the academy following the dismissal of Pedro Caixinha as manager.