Rangers Opinion: Sheyi Ojo could prove to be a useful signing if he hits the ground running at Ibrox
According to Mirror, Rangers are closing in on a season-long loan deal for Liverpool starlet Sheyi Ojo, with manager Steven Gerrard keen to raid his former club in a bid to add more firepower to his attacking ranks.
Mirror understands that the 21-year-old winger is set to spend the 2019-20 campaign on loan at Ibrox under the tutelage of Gerrard, subject to completing a medical.
The move, if it materializes, will be Gerrard’s third raid on Liverpool in successive summers following the arrival of Ovie Ejaria and Ryan Kent last year.
While Ejaria struggled to get to grips with the Scottish game, Kent reached great heights and established himself as a first-team regular at Ibrox under Gerrard and bagged the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award for his terrific performances.
The Gers are keen to bring Kent back on a second loan spell this summer but the 22-year-old favours a permanent switch and the Scottish giants are unlikely to go ahead and match Liverpool’s £12 million valuation of the player. On the other hand, securing the services of Ojo on loan apparently looks like a more viable option for Rangers at this moment.
Ojo spent this past season on loan at Reims in Ligue 1 but his spell in the French top-flight proved to be a lacklustre one, with the youngster struggling for first-team opportunities. He only started a handful of games and returned back to Anfield after scoring a solitary goal in 17 appearances across all competitions.
Interestingly, Liverpool seem to be buoyed by Ryan Kent’s success under Gerrard at Ibrox last season and the Reds believe Ojo can move across the border and emulate his fellow academy graduate’s success under the club legend (h/t Mirror).
Ojo, who made his move to Anfield from MK Dons at the age of 14 back in 2011, has made 13 first-team appearances for the Reds since making his Premier League debut in 2016.
The 21-year-old has never really been close to nailing down a regular spot in the Reds first-team, though, with the winger spending time on loan at Wigan, Wolves, Fulham and Reims over the course of his stay at Anfield.
Born in England to parents of Nigerian descent, Ojo has represented England at all youth levels from U-16 to U-21, accumulating a total of 42 caps in the process.
To put things into perspective, Sheyi Ojo continues to be highly-rated at Anfield, despite the youngster’s lacklustre displays on his loan spells, but a stint at Ibrox under the watchful eyes of Gerrard might work wonders for his development.
Rangers need to bring in a replacement for Kent and, while signing Ojo looks a bit risky, it certainly won’t be the worst possible option for the Gers for that matter.
Essentially a left-footed attacking midfielder, Ojo is capable of playing out wide on either flank. Noted for his sharpness, agility, pace and trickery, the 21-year-old has all the attributes to terrorise full-backs, with his ability to cut inside from the wide areas and create chances making him a potent threat in the final third.
To add to that, he is also quite good from set-pieces and never hesitates to have a crack on goal from distance.
Ojo is by no means the finished article and Gerrard would need to smoothen the rough edges in his game to make him ready for the first-team.
The arrival of Jake Hastie and Jordan Jones on pre-contract deals is likely to boost Rangers’ attacking options but Ojo could add that bit of unpredictability and X-factor to the Gers’ forward line if he manages to hit the ground running.
Greg Stewart is also set to rejoin Rangers on a free transfer this summer. While Gerrard is likely to have enough resources in his attacking department for the upcoming season, Ojo could add much-needed depth and challenge the likes of Daniel Candeias, Hastie and Scott Arfield for a spot in the eleven.
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Gerrard will be looking to go one step further next season after Rangers fell well short of Celtic in the title race this time around.
However, they showed strong signs of promise last term and the acquisition of Sheyi Ojo might as well prove to be a blessing in disguise, as the Gers aim to put an end to the domestic dominance of their Old Firm rivals.