Gio van Bronckhorst's likely Rangers assistant Jean-Paul van Gastel profiled
Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images

Gio van Bronckhorst's likely Rangers assistant Jean-Paul van Gastel profiled

Rangers are reportedly closing in on appointing former Ibrox star Gio van Bronckhorst as the club’s new manager and after Steven Gerrard’s sudden defection to Aston Villa gutted the first-team coaching staff, the Dutchman is going to have to bring his own men in with him.

One name that has been mentioned as a likely addition to Gio’s backroom staff is Jean-Paul van Gastel – but who is the Dutchman that could be Rangers’ next assistant manager?

Could this be Gio’s assistant if he takes the Rangers job? (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Van Gastel has worked alongside van Bronckhorst at Feyenoord and Chinese Super League side Guanghzou R&F, having already been on the coaching staff at Feyenoord’s Academy while Gio was wrapping up his playing career at the club.

After van Bronckhorst took the reins as manager at De Kuip, van Gastel became a trusted lieutenant of the former Arsenal and Barcelona star as they won the Eredivisie and two KNVB Cups.

Playing career

The Dutchman was born in Breda in 1972, spending time in the youth setup at BSV Boeimeer, NAC Breda and Willem II, making his breakthrough in 1990 with Willem and going on to make 139 appearances for them, scoring five times, before earning a move to Feyenoord in 1996.

Versatile midfielder van Gastel was part of the Feyenoord side that lifted the Dutch title in 1999 and won a handful of caps for the Netherlands in friendlies.

His spell as a player at De Kuip was the most successful of his career with his five year stint in Rotterdam followed by spells with Italian sides Ternana and Como – mustering fewer than ten appearances in Italy.

As he wound up his playing career, van Gastel returned to his homeland, joining De Graafschap in 2002 before retiring the following year.

Steps into coaching

Jean-Paul van Gastel during a training session in Austria(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

A spell out of the game would follow van Gastel’s returement but before long, he returned to his first senior club, Willem II, as under-19s boss before making the same move he did as a player when he took up the a similar role at Feyenoord in 2005.

He would remain part of the Jong Feyenoord coaching staff until 2011 when he was promoted to the senior side under Ronald Koeman – appointed assistant to the future Barcelona boss alongside van Bronckhorst.

Partnership with van Bronckhorst

When Koeman left Feyenoord to take charge of Southampton, van Bronkchorst and van Gastel remained part of the staff in Rotterdam, alongside his replacement Fred Rutten, before Gio ascended to the manager’s position a year later.

As van Bronckhorst led Feyenoord to their first league title in 18 years, van Gastel was by his side and was assistant right through his time at the club before following Gio to China in 2019 when he took charge at Guangzhou R&F.

When van Bronckhorst returned home in 2020, citing the Covid pandemic as part of his decision to leave China, van Gastel stayed behind, taking the reins at the newly-rebranded Guangzhou City FC at the start of 2021.

Branching out on his own

With van Bronckhorst back in the Netherlands, van Gastel’s debut season in charge saw him finished fourth in their eight-team group to qualify for the Championship stage of the Chinese Super League.

However, with fixtures not scheduled to get underway until next month, van Gastel may not get the chance to challenge for the title in China – turning his attentions to defending the Scottish Premiership.

Speaking of managers who’ve been linked to Rangers, several club insiders have been rubbishing links to one ex-Gers star who was mentioned down south.