Rangers have officially announced the signing of Liverpool defender Ben Davies – with a leading Preston North End journalist believing the £4m deal to bring him to Ibrox could prove a bargain.
The Gers have announced a four-year deal for the 26-year-old which means the Ibrox side will theoretically enjoy the former PNE star during his peak years.
Celtic were infamously “gazumped” to the signing of Davies 18 months ago as Liverpool spent £1.6m to bring the defender to Anfield amid a defensive injury crisis as Davies’ contract entered it’s final six months at Deepdale.
Whilst Ben Davies never played for the Reds, the fact they moved for the player symbolises the stature of talent Rangers are getting in the defender, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Sheffield United.
Jurgen Klopp has backed Ben Davies to make a proper fist of it at Rangers and – to the excitement of Ibrox supporters – claimed the player “belongs on the big stage”.
One person who knows this better than most is the editor of Preston North End fan site Deepdale Digest Olly Dawes, who watched Ben Davies develop as a player over the course of eight years with the Lilywhites.
Speaking exclusively to Rangers News, the journalist gave an insight into the type of player the Gers are getting in the defender.
“Davies actually started out as a left back in the Preston ranks but was converted as a left-sided defender in a back three on loan at Fleetwood Town,” said Dawes.
“Alex Neil then used Davies as his left-sided centre back in a back four, and he simply never looked back.
“Ben Davies was just outstanding for three-and-a-half years and was arguably the biggest success story of the Neil era.
“Davies showed pace, a great reading of the game and the quality to play out from the back by playing through the lines with strong vertical passing ability.
“Preston players never really get the credit they deserve in a division full of perceivably ‘bigger’ clubs but Davies was one of the top centre backs in the league.
“Few strikers can really claim to have got the better of Davies during his time at Preston and he certainly deserved his Premier League move; he should stand out in Scotland too, though I wouldn’t especially suggest that Davies is dominant in the air – something that other teams may notice.
“Davies was worth much more than what Preston sold him for and whilst becoming a first-team player at Liverpool was always unlikely, there’s a reason he popped onto their radar in the first place.”
Ben Davies can help plug Rangers Calvin Bassey hole
The defender looks certain to replace Nigerian international Calvin Bassey at Rangers, with the 22-year-old defender set to complete a record-breaking move to Ajax.
Reports suggest that Bassey’s imminent move to the Netherlands could bank Rangers north of £23m, a testament to the amazing progress made by the player over the last few weeks.
Similarly to Ben Davies, Calvin Bassey started out at left-back before moving into the middle and we asked Olly if the player is a like-for-like replacement.
Whilst the Liverpool defender might lack Bassey’s stature, Dawes is confident that Davies’ attributes can give Rangers what they need whilst he also touched on that £4m fee.
For Rangers this is a substantial outlay for a defender, but amid £10m links down south during his time at Preston, Olly believes the deal could prove a snip.
“Davies showed his pace with Preston. You never particularly look at him and think he’s got blazing speed, but he’s a really smooth athlete who can make up ground really well,” said Olly.
“I don’t think he’s quite the athlete Bassey is though. Bassey combines his pace with great strength too, but Davies doesn’t quite have that power.
“Davies isn’t the biggest centre back ever but used his body really well to deal with more physical players like Aleksandar Mitrovic in the Championship.
“You won’t really see Davies throwing strikers aside like Bassey did in the Europa League final but he’s calm, composed and certainly capable of playing in a high line.
“I would certainly say the £4m is value for money.
“The last 18 months or so haven’t exactly gone to plan for Davies but if Rangers can get him back to his Preston form, £4million will seem like a snip.”
Meanwhile, a controversial former Ibrox star has been lamenting comments he made when he first joined the Gers from a Premiership rival.