Last summer saw a massive influx of new players to the Rangers academy as part of a plan to acquire top talent from Scotland and England early enough so that they can be developed and counted as homegrown under UEFA’s squad regulations.
One area where we maybe should have looked harder is in defence where we have consistently struggled this season from the Under-18s up to the B team but it looks as though Ross Wilson and his recruitment team have identified where we went wrong with the latest transfer news coming out of Ibrox.
Writing for Football Insider, former Sky Sports reporter Pete O’Rourke has claimed that Manchester City youngster Marley Leulai has reported to Auchenhowie for a trial period during which the centre-half will be assessed and considered for a contract. Rangers have the edge over City in that we can offer professional terms a year earlier and, probably, also a clearer path to first-team football.
Interestingly, there is an aspect of Leulai’s development that Craig Mulholland will be able to guarantee – his physicality. Marley’s dad Kylie is a full international for New Zealand’s rugby league side, hardly a sport for the faint hearted, and it suggests that the 16-year old comes from good stock – I certainly wouldn’t recommend telling someone described as a “colossus” and who can bench press 225kgs that he has a girl’s name to his face.
Producing players like Nathan Patterson will always be the gold standard, however, the next best thing is identifying talent at a young enough age that they can be brought through as one of our own. Man City, given their almost infinite resources, will always be able to hoover up the best that money can buy but as we saw with Calvin Bassey, there are gems to be found on the fringes of the Premier League and on their academy pitches.