Last summer, Rangers were linked with a host of central midfielders, our feeble exit from the Champion League qualifiers at the hands of Malmo likely putting a halt on a big money move for Joey Veerman.
There were a few other names mentioned too though with Croatia’s Under-21 international captain, Ivan Lepinjica, said to be of particular interest, the towering midfielder tipped to add steel to the Rangers midfied.
Injury halted the 22-year old’s progress just as it looked as though he was heading for the delayed European Championships, however, a return to fitness and form means that we could well make a return for the HNK Rijeka player, as reported already by Vital Rangers.
What makes him an even more attractive proposition this time around is that he is comfortable dropping into the heart of defence too, a quality that Giovanni van Bronckhorst loves in his defensive midfielders but, if we are interested, we will have to move fast, as revealed by Football lnsider:
“Rangers have also been tracking Lepinjica after first considering a move for him in the summer of 2021.
“But Wolves are planning to strike a deal this summer and that could blow the Glasgow giants out of the water.
“Lepinjica, who is a 6ft 3in defensive midfielder, would have been expected to have made the Croatia squad for last summer’s Euro 2020 had he not missed a big chunk of the 2020-21 campaign due to injury.
“Lepinjica has been on the radar of many Premier League clubs, but they have previously been put off by his injury issues.”
Obviously, Wolves will be able to afford bigger wages than us but, would they be able to offer the same amount of game time? For a player on the fringes of the Croatian national team, surely that would be his priority and having seen Borna Barisic and Josip Juranovic both get called up and keep their places in the starting XI, moving to Scotland shouldn’t be an issue.
Lepinjica still has two years to run on his current contract but the Croatian market isn’t one that is hugely inflated as we’ve seen for the fees paid to the previously mentioned full-backs, he’s at a good age and stage of his career and, at 6ft 4inches tall, could well add the physicality that was missing at times in Ryan Jack’s absence last season.
This is where having a sporting director should be an advantage because we are already aware of a player that will fit the new manager’s system whilst also meet our player trading model, what’s not to like?