Rangers must do everything they can to retain these two stars
Rangers have been solid this season. Steven Gerrard’s charges are currently at the summit of the table but their arch-rivals Celtic do have a game in hand.
Brought in at the Ibrox to end Celtic’s domestic dominance, Gerrard has built a squad capable of going all the way in the title race. With the January transfer window just around the corner, we take a look at two players that Rangers must hold onto in the winter.
1. Alfredo Morelos
The Colombian was subjected to a £3.75 million bid from French Ligue side Bordeaux in the summer. The bid was promptly turned down with Gerrard describing it as “derisory” and “disrespectful”. But the club should brace themselves for more interest in the striker in January.
Morelos has been sensational since joining the Ibrox club from Finnish side HJK Helsinki in the summer of 2017. Last season, the 22-year-old was Rangers’ joint top scorer after netting 18 goals and eight assists in 43 games. This season, the Colombia international has scored 9 goals and provided 4 assists in 14 games so far.
His goalscoring exploits make him a valuable asset for Rangers. The Gers have a lot to prove and their hopes of overtaking Celtic will be heavily rooted in Morelos and his ability to find the back of the net regularly.
Although his current contract at the Ibrox runs until the summer of 2022, Rangers must do all they can to hold onto their prized asset.
2. James Tavernier
Like Morelos, club captain James Tavernier won’t be short of potential suitors in the winter. He is a supremely talented attacking right-back, who is entering his peak. Already, Brighton & Hove Albion have been credited with a possible move for the right-back in January (h/t Daily Mail).
With Brighton looking tensely over their shoulders in the Premier League, manager Chris Hughton needs to strengthen his defensive options and Tavernier is certainly an excellent choice.
In recent times, the Newcastle youth graduate has been one of the most consistent Rangers players. Last season, Tavernier scored 7 goals and provided a further 8 assists in 33 league games. This season, he has already hit 6 goals and provided 8 assists in 14 league games – a record too good since he is a defender by trade.
Rangers must do everything they can to hold onto their star man. After a long time, they are heading in the right direction under Gerrard’s leadership. Losing Tavernier, a defender who can help out in scoring goals, would seriously derail their progress.
Norwich signing this experienced Sheffield Wednesday star would help them deal PL with ease – opinion
Norwich City opinion: Canaries should sign Jordan Rhodes permanently
According to the Sun, Norwich City are keen on securing the services of Sheffield Wednesdaystriker Jordan Rhodes permanently, as the Canaries look to build a strong enough squad to survive in the Premier League.
The 29-year-old Scottish international spent the last season on loan at Carrow Road from Hillsborough and played a bit-part role in the Championship, as Daniel Farke’s side secured automatic promotion to the top-flight as the winners of the second-tier.
The Sun understands that Sheffield Wednesday might be prepared to let Rhodes depart permanently on the cheap and Norwich are keen to have him in their squad as an important squad player.
Rhodes chipped in with 6 goals and an assist in Norwich’s promotion-winning campaign in the Championship this past season, returns which are quite good given that he started only 9 games.
The 29-year-old played as many as 27 cameos from the bench in the league, with Teemu Pukki’s prolific form up front keeping him out of the first-team. Those returns look quite meagre on paper, but in all honesty, he did what was asked of him and played the role of an understudy to perfection.
The Owls might be open to parting ways with Rhodes given that his time at Hillsborough has not at all been a fruitful one.
Signed from Middlesbrough for a club-record £10million back in the summer of 2017 following a successful loan spell, the Scotsman flattered to deceive and never really lived up to his billing as a prolific frontman.
He was deemed surplus to demands after netting just 5 times in the Championship in the 2017-18 season, so it probably won’t be a bad idea for the Owls to finally cut their losses on him, with Norwich keen on making his loan move permanent.
Rhodes hasn’t been at his best over the last two or three seasons after having carved out a reputation for himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the Championship earlier in his career.
He doesn’t have much experience of playing in the top-flight but his record in the second-tier is certainly awe-inspiring, having racked up a staggering 105 goals and 21 assists in 274 appearances for the likes of Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Balckburn Rovers, Ipswich Town and Huddersfield Town.
To put things into perspective, few would have expected Jordan Rhodes to be on Daniel Farke’s shop list after the Canaries secured promotion to the Premier League.
However, it has to be said that the 29-year-old won’t be a bad signing for Norwich, and with a wealth of Football League experience under his belt, he might go on to make some kind of contribution in the top-flight next season.
Rhodes certainly won’t dislodge Pukki in the pecking order after the Finnish international’s goalscoring heroics in the Championship this past season but he might prove to be a key squad player.
The 29-year-old still has the killer instincts of an out-and-out centre-forward and he can certainly bring a lot to the team with his smart hold-up play, supreme aerial ability, physicality and clinical finishing, meaning that Farke should look at him as someone who could possibly operate as the focal point of the attack.
Rhodes won’t be the only addition to Norwich’s attack this summer and they would probably bring in a few more players to add adequate depth to their ranks.
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Rhodes is a very hard working forward who always shows plenty of commitment on the pitch and runs the channels to cut the passing lanes at the back.
Despite his lack of top-flight experience, the Canaries can do themselves a world of good by getting him on board permanently ahead of the upcoming season, particularly with the 29-year-old likely to be available on the cheap.
Nottingham Forest beating off competition to land this League One star would make them solid at the back next season
Nottingham Forest opinion: Forest should snap up Tom Lockyer for free
Lockyer made 40 appearances for Bristol Rovers in League One this season and was an ever-present figure at the back for the club, as Graham Coughlan’s side finished 15th in the standings.
Nottinghamshire Liveunderstands that the 24-year-old, whose contract at the Memorial Stadium is set to expire, is keen to test his credentials higher up the footballing pyramid.
The same source claims that the Welsh international has offers on the table from as many as four Championship clubs who are confident that the centre-back is good enough to make the step up to the second division.
The ex-Cardiff City youth product joined Bristol Rovers back in 2011 and has been a part of the club’s journey for the last seven seasons. He started off in League Two, got relegated to the Conference Premier and then helped his club secure back-to-back promotions.
Lockyer has made a total of 284 appearances for Bristol Rovers in all competitions but it looks like his time at the Memorial Stadium is coming to an end.
Lockyer’s consistently impressive performances in League One caught the eye of former Wales boss Chris Coleman, who handed the defender his senior international debut in 2017. Prior to that, Lockyer had represented Wales at the U-21 level as well.
To put things into perspective, Nottingham Forest are not crying out for a centre-back at the moment and there are other areas of the squad which are in need of improvement but they can certainly do with another experienced head in their defensive department.
Forest finished 9th in the Championship this season, 8 points adrift of Derby County for the final playoff spot, but they looked pretty stable at the back for large chunks of the campaign.
Forest finished the season on a high with three back-to-back victories over Middlesbrough, QPR and Bolton but they lost three consecutive games prior to that.
Their defence looked a tad shaky in the defeats against Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, which might just prompt manager Martin O’Neill to strengthen his defensive ranks ahead of the upcoming season.
Joe Worrall is likely to be available for selection next season after enjoying a fruitful loan spell with Rangers, while Jack Robinson, who was rotated between left-back and centre-back this term, is also expected to be at the City Ground.
However, the futures of loanees Youane Benalouane and Molla Wague remain up in the air and it remains to be seen whether Forest end up striking permanent deals for either of them.
With the likes of Alexander Milosevic and Michael Dawson in their ranks, Forest have adequate cover at centre-back but signing Tom Lockyer on a free transfer shouldn’t do them much harm. Moreover, Dawson is already 35 and he is very much nearing the twilight of his career.
Lockyer has honed his skills as a defensive leader for Bristol Rovers in League One, and with a bagful of Football League experience under his belt, one would expect him to adjust to the Championship pretty easily.
The Welshman is more of an old-school centre-back who likes to use his physical attributes to keep the opposition at bay, while also possessing wonderful aerial ability and above-average game-reading skills.
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Lockyer is a full international for Wales and Forest need to take that into consideration.
All in all, the 24-year-old could prove to be a good long-term investment for the club and he certainly deserves a chance to showcase his skills in the Championship after excelling for such a long time in the lower divisions of English football.
Time for goodbye? Crystal Palace’s talismanic speedster should leave the club to reach new heights
Crystal Palace opinion: Zaha should leave the Eagles to reach next level
According to a recent report by the Daily Mail, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has already informed his representatives within the club about his plans to move on to join a club that regularly competes in the Champions League.
It has been reported that Zaha also met up with club chairman Steve Parish in the week after the league season drew to a close.
Whether or not he’s already informed the chairman of his intentions next term is a question that is yet to be answered, it seems to quite explicit that he desired to step up to the next level of the footballing pedestal next season.
It’s a certainty that multiple top European clubs will be more than keen on the Ivorian’s signature.
His exploits for Palace this season certainly haven’t gone unnoticed and the fact that he stepped up and even performed the role of striker satisfactorily will be an added boost.
The stuttering Palace forwards meant that Zaha was promoted to playing striker in the early months of the season and he delivered the goods consistently.
His figures for Palace has been an absolute dream and an aspiring team such as themselves have him go thank for the position they’re in.
While there are bound to be some changes at Selhurst Park this summer, replacing Zaha will be the most challenging task as he has been their sole creative outlet for a while now.
Having played in 34 league games this season, most of which he started, the Ivorian winger managed to notch up a highly impressive 10 goals and 10 assists and has been far and away Palace’s most standout player of the season.
Alongside Andros Townsend, Zaha has scored some wonder-goals this season and his stock has definitely risen.
He is often utilised by on the right-flank of his attack line by Roy Hodgson but as we’ve seen in this campaign and over the past couple of seasons, Zaha’s versatility allows him to operate anywhere across the midfield or front-line and his numbers as their talisman were quite commendable too.
Able to beat a man using a trick, Zaha’s creative thinking makes a massive threat in the final third, irrespective of whether he’s looking for the killer pass or to finish the move off. Since he’s usually dependable in front of goal, his conversion rate is fairly decent too.
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He offers a wide array of skills and the fact that he’s a season Premier League professional would only make the deal sweeter for whoever signs him.
At 26, this summer will be the right time for him to pursue bigger things and with a number of clubs lining up moves, he could be in for the most exciting summer of his life.
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