'Great move' - Exclusive: Journalist reacts as Rangers announce latest Ibrox signing
It has been a busy summer for Rangers, who have agreed a flurry of new signings as they plot to wrestle the title back from Celtic.
The Glasgow giants fourth summer recruit was sealed on Friday as they announced the signing of Nigeria international Leon Balogun on a free transfer from Wigan Athletic.
Football Insider revealed he’d passed his medical shortly before the Ibrox club confirmed his permanent switch.
Now we have caught up with someone who followed Balogun closely during his two year stint on the south coast with Brighton and Hove Albion.
We ask Andy Naylor, Brighton and Hove Albion correspondent for the Athletic UK, for the lowdown on the new Rangers defender.
Can he cope with the Ibrox pressure cooker?
I don’t think that will be any problem for him from the point of view of not coping with the pressure. You’re looking at a player who has got a lot of experience playing for his country Nigeria. He actually signed for Brighton off the back of the 2018 World Cup in Russa where he was playing against the likes of Lionel Messi in a key game. He came to Brighton and came on against Manchester United for his debut and his full debut was against Liverpool at Anfield. So, you’re not talking about somebody who isn’t used to being involved in a high pressure environment. I don’t think that will be an issue at all.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
Do you see him being a first choice instead of Helander or Goldson?
He’ll be well prepared for the challenge and it was kind of what he faced at Brighton. When he signed there was a well-established partnership between Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. They were the two who were dominating those positions and it was difficult for him to dislodge them. Even when he got the chances, came in and did well, Chris (Hughton) went back to his tried and trusted pairing. When Graham Potter took over, he was really unlucky. He’d been away for the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria, so he was back quite late and by then they’d signed Adam Webster for a club-record fee. So, he’s faced that challenge already, it won’t be unusual for him.
Is he ready for the challenge?
Absolutely, you only need to look at his record from when he joined Wigan. They had an awful lot of clean sheets and he played a very big part in that. For Brighton, his defining moment was probably against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup earlier in the season. Graham Potter made a lot of changes and he was subbed at half time, there’s no coincidence he joined Wigan at the end of the month, he probably knew that was it for him.
What is his character like?
I don’t think there will be any problem with him fitting in to the dressing room at all, there were no issues with that at Brighton and he was well liked. He comes with a lot of experience, this is a guy who’s played in the Bundesliga, in the Premier League and internationally with experience against some top players. I think Rangers are getting a pretty good signing from that point of view and from his point of view as well he’ll look it as a great move for him at the stage of his career. I don’t think he’ll be lacking motivation.
Does he have an outstanding attributes?
He’s pretty sound defensively, he made a couple of mistakes in the games that he did play at Brighton but I think you have to give him the benefit of the doubt because it was in the Premier League. He was always in a situation where he was filling in for someone else, so he didn’t have the benefit of a run of games at any stage of his Brighton career. He’s quite comfortable on the ball and good in possession, he won’t mind having a lot of the ball.
In other Rangers news, they are calling ‘every day’ as bid to seal marquee signing intensifies.
PLUS: Subscribe for free to our brilliant new YouTube channel for daily videos, interviews with our top pundits and special guests, and all the latest insight into the club you love.