Why Rangers should reignite interest in Haris Belkebla
Towards the end of June, a report from The Scottish Sun had mentioned both Celtic and Rangers as potential suitors for Algerian international midfielder Haris Belkebla. The 26-year-old, who still plies his trade with Stade Brestois in the French top-flight, was also the subject of interest from Lens.
However, Belkebla eventually ended up staying put at his current club as Brest were reluctant to sell one of their key players. Meanwhile, Rangers signed Bongani Zungu on a season-long loan deal from Amiens to add more depth to their midfield before the summer deadline.
Haris Belkebla started his footballing education with Boulogne in France before completing his development at Valenciennes. He shot to prominence with Tours in the second-tier and went on to make 152 appearances across four seasons, scoring 7 times in the process.
The 26-year-old then joined fellow Ligue 2 outfit, Brest, in the summer of 2018 and played a key role to guide the club to promotion in his debut season. Belkebla featured as a regular starter in the previous campaign as Brest comfortably survived relegation in Ligue 1 last term. He has started each of the club’s 8 opening fixtures so far this season.
Belkebla would be a fine addition to Rangers’ midfield
Rangers are currently well-stocked in their central midfield options, especially after the acquisition of Bongani Zungu on loan in the summer. The South African international is yet to make his debut for the Gers, so it remains to be seen how Steven Gerrard wishes to integrate him into his first-team plans in the coming months.
The manager has been happy to rotate the likes of Steven Davis, Glen Kamara, Scott Arfield, Joe Aribo, and Ryan Jack in his three-man midfield. Rangers have enough competition for places in the middle but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to keep adding to their squad with one eye on the long-term plans.
Davis is nearing his twilight at 35 while Kamara’s meteoric rise at Ibrox over the past 18 months hasn’t eluded the eyes of the Premier League clubs. The Gers have managed to keep hold of the Finland international so far but they would surely be left with a massive void to fill if he ends up departing the club in the near future.
Rangers should, therefore, start planning for the future given the weight of expectations to excel on all fronts under Gerrard’s stewardship. They do have an option to sign Zungu on a permanent deal, but reigniting interest in Haris Belkebla would still make sense, regardless of the South African’s future at Ibrox.
Belkebla was a consistent performer in the French second-tier earlier in his career and has made a successful transition to the top-flight over the past 12 months. He’s more than capable of switching between defensive and box-to-box roles, thus offering Gerrard with some valuable cover in midfield.
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Rangers will eventually need to replace the ageing legs of Davis moving forward and losing Kamara could worsen the situation. Hence, Gerrard should be smart enough to line up some alternatives in the market even if Zungu’s long-term future lies at Ibrox. Haris Belkebla still has his best years ahead of him at 26. The Gers should definitely make a renewed attempt to sign the Algerian.