Why Rangers should reignite their interest in Daniel Johnson
The report revealed that Steven Gerrard was on the lookout for a new midfielder to bolster his squad ahead of the summer deadline and had set his sights on Johnson. The Gers had been hoping to secure the 28-year-old on a cut-price deal, with his contract at Preston set to expire in 2021.
However, a move to Ibrox failed to materialise and Rangers eventually ended up signing South African international Bongani Zungu on a season-long loan deal from Amiens.
Daniel Johnson started his footballing education at Crystal Palace before completing his development at Aston Villa. However, he never made a competitive appearance for the Villans and spent time on loan at Yeovil Town, Chesterfield and Oldham Athletic in the Football League before completing a permanent transfer to Preston in January 2015.
The Jamaican made quite ab impact during the second half of the 2014-15 season to guide Preston to a promotion-winning campaign in League One. He then continued in the same vein of form in the Championship, as the Lilywhites comfortably stayed up in the second-tier.
Johnson has impressed as a regular starter for Preston over the years in the Championship and racked up a career-best tally of 12 goals and 8 assists in just 33 league appearances last term. The left-footed ace has amassed 45 goals and 26 assists in 226 appearances for Preston in all competitions so far.
Johnson would be a great addition to Rangers’ midfield
Rangers do have the option of turning Bongani Zungu’s loan deal into a permanent transfer next summer. But with the South African yet to break into Steven Gerrard’s plans, the Gers should continue to monitor quality alternatives in the market.
The Ibrox giants are presently pretty well-stocked in midfield, with Steven Davis, Joe Aribo, Glen Kamara, Ryan Jack and Scott Arfield all competing for places. To that end, the Gers can certainly afford to weigh up different options before making a decision on Zungu’s future.
The African enforcer has a decent profile, having plied his trade in France and Portugal. But going by his track record at previous clubs, he doesn’t offer too much in terms of direct goal contributions from midfield. Hence, Gerrard should ideally look for a more dynamic midfielder who would add another dimension to his midfield moving forward.
Thus, Rangers making a renewed attempt to sign Daniel Johnson in January would make a lot of sense in footballing terms. The 28-year-old boasts an impressive track record of goals and assists at Preston and would, therefore, offer the Gers a better creative outlet in the final third.
Besides that, Johnson has the versatility to switch between attacking, box-to-box and defensive roles in the middle of the park. With Davis nearing his twilight at 35 and Arfield (31) also not getting any younger, the Preston star would potentially sort out Rangers’ midfield for several years to come.
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Having made close to 200 career appearances in the EFL Championship, Daniel Johnson would be expected to make the transition to the Scottish Premiership with relative ease. The 28-year-old is yet to sign an extension to his existing contract at Preston that expires next summer. Hence, the door remains open for the Gers negotiate a cut-price deal for the Jamaican when the market reopens in January.