With Mark Warburton’s Rangers having secured promotion to the promised land of the Ladbrokes Premiership earlier this month, we take a look at five realistic transfer targets who could help the ‘Gers establish themselves in the top-flight and even launch a title tilt.
Billy McKay – Current Club: Dundee United / Age: 27
While Mixu Paatelainen’s United have endured a torrid campaign, August arrival McKay has been the one bright spark at Tannadice. And with the Tayside club seemingly set for relegation, the Northern Ireland international will likely be on the hunt for a new club.
Having clocked up 12 goals in 25 Ladbrokes Premiership games this season, and 62 in 141 games during his time at Inverness CT, McKay has established himself as a top goalscorer at this level, and his tally could well improve with service from the likes of James Tavernier and Nicky Law.
Tom Naylor – Current Club: Burton Albion / Age: 24
An integral part of the tightest defence in England’s League One, the robust and reliable Naylor would add serious steel to a Rangers defence which is currently more cultured than tough.
The former Mansfield Town man – who helped the Brewers to promotion last season – is also a significant threat from set-plays, and has netted five times in this League One campaign, most recently in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with table-topping Wigan Athletic.
At just 24, the commanding, no-nonsense Naylor plays with the maturity of a veteran and is versatile, slotting in comfortably at centre-back or right-back.
Jonny Hayes – Current Club: Aberdeen / Age: 28
Having struggled for games in the early part of his career, Jonny Hayes’ performances continue to go from strength to strength, and he plays with the determination of a man desperate to be the first name on the teamsheet.
But it isn’t just work rate which sets the Republic of Ireland international apart. A pacy dribbler with the ability to fire an inch-perfect cross onto a teammate’s head, Hayes has been perhaps the most valuable asset for Aberdeen, in their attempts to wrestle the Ladbrokes Premiership crown away from Celtic. This is a man with all the attributes needed to be a revelation at Ibrox.
Alan Judge: Current Club: Brentford / Age: 27
One of Warburton’s most successful tactics as Rangers boss has been to mine England’s Football League for gems, with the likes of Harry Forrester and Tavernier – acquired from Doncaster and Wigan respectively – already huge fan-favourites.
And if the former London trader managed to sell his Ibrox vision to those players, convincing Alan Judge – the man he signed as Brentford boss – to ditch west London for Glasgow is unlikely to prove too difficult.
That’s especially true now that there’s the lure of Ladbrokes Premiership football. In Judge, the Light Blues would receive a prodigiously skilful, diminutive midfield magician with an unerring eye for goal.
Famara Diedhiou: Current Club: Clermont Foot / Age: 23
A virtual unknown on these shores, Diedhiou has been turning heads in French football, notching up 21 goals in 33 games this season, for Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot.
An imposing hitman with the ability to hold off defenders at ease, the Senegalese striker is on loan from Ligue 1 side Sochaux. They rate him as a star for the future, but with a natural physicality which can exhaust opposition defenders, he could be the perfect man for the ‘Gers next season.
Rangers are in action tonight, as they look to build on last weekend’s dramatic victory over Celtic with a win at Hibernian, priced at 6/5. The Ibrox club are 11/4 to be crowned Ladbrokes Premiership champions in 2016-17, though if Warburton makes any of the above acquisitions, next season’s title odds could tumble significantly.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.