Pedro Caixinha’s revamp of the Rangers squad has gathered pace with confirmation of former Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack’s signing for the club and the imminent arrival of Mexican international winger Carlos Pena in Glasgow.
Jack put pen to paper on a three-year deal with Rangers yesterday, having opted to leave Aberdeen on the expiry of his contract at Pittodrie.
The 25-year-old became Caixinha’s second signing as Rangers manager, following the capture of Portuguese international defender Bruno Alves on Wednesday.
They look set to be joined by a third new recruit in the shape of 27-year-old Pena, who is expected in Scotland today for a medical after Rangers agreed a deal with his Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara. A work permit will also be required before Pena’s signing can be formally concluded.
For boyhood Rangers supporter Jack, his move to Govan left him in something of a daze as he relishes the prospect of being part of Caixinha’s attempt to revitalise their fortunes.
“I’m just overwhelmed at the minute but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Jack. “It’s a surreal moment but I’m delighted to be here and it’s an honour to be part of this club.
“From what I’ve heard the club are making a few signings and bringing in a good calibre of player, so it’s exciting times and I know there are really good players already here as well.
“I’ve just spoken with the manager briefly and he told me his plans and what he expects from the team and of me. I’m sure when I come back in for pre-season I’ll know a lot more about what’s happening and what’s to come.
“But obviously coming to a club like Rangers, it’s always exciting and the European football is a massive appeal. That’s something I’m looking forward to, a European night at Ibrox. I’m here, I want to enjoy it and I want to help the club be successful again.
“I’ve had a lot of experiences as a football player and to captain Aberdeen Football Club was a huge honour. I’m thankful to Aberdeen for that and to Derek McInnes but I just felt it was time for a fresh challenge and it’s one at Rangers that I’m really looking forward to.”
Jack is also hopeful the move will enhance his chances of full international recognition, something which eluded him regardless of how well he played for Aberdeen.
“As a player I’m always ambitious and so far I have only got into one Scotland squad,” he told Rangers TV.
“I want to try to, first and foremost, come to Rangers and help Rangers and do as well as I can. If the Scotland call comes with my form being good and playing every week at Rangers, then I will be more than delighted with that.
“But I think, first and foremost, I know I’m coming to a new club with new team-mates and a new manager. It’s all going to be a challenge but it’s one I’m really looking forward to and if Scotland come calling, that would be great.”
While Rangers report back for pre-season training next Monday, ahead of their opening Europa League qualifier on 29 June, Jack will be given an extended break following his lengthy campaign with Aberdeen which ended in last Saturday’s Scottish Cup final defeat to Celtic.
“It was a long season,” he said. “We had the European qualifiers at the start so I think it was a 50-week season we had, training for 50 weeks and playing.
“But I’ve got a couple of weeks off now, I’m getting married on June 9 so I’ve got a lot to look forward to in the summer, knowing in the back of my mind that I’m coming back to a fresh challenge with Rangers with new team-mates and a new manager.
“I’m going to be doing bits myself to keep myself ticking over so when I come back I’m in good condition. There are only a few weeks before you could potentially be playing a competitive match again so I’m just obviously trying to take it all in.”
Caixinha expressed his happiness at securing a player to fill the position of holding midfielder which has been a problem area for Rangers for some time.
“We identified in him something that we need in our midfield,” said Caixinha. “Which is leadership and understanding the game in terms of being the balance player who builds from the back, who switches the play, who releases the full-backs and allows all the offensive players to go up the park with more freedom. That is what we identified in Ryan but we also have other players who we want to be competing for that position, and to have a winning team we also think it is really important to start being competitive for every position in the team.
“But I’m very happy that Ryan is our first Scottish signing. I believe 25 is a great age for him to come here. He had three years as captain of Aberdeen and has that experience, and he understands what it means to represent Rangers.
“I think we have all the points together to get the best from Ryan and to get the best from all the players that are coming. As I said after Bruno joined the club, we want to have a group of players who can create a big team and a team which always has desire to win on the pitch.”