Rangers and Portugal youngster Umaro Balde eyes first-team debut
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Rangers and Portugal youngster Umaro Balde eyes first-team debut

Speaking to the Glasgow Times, Rangers and Portugal youngster Umaro Balde says he wants to make his Gers first-team debut within the next two years after a positive start to life in Glasgow.

Balde was first seen at the Rangers Training Centre back in June as he arrived to sign a deal with the Gers following a stint with Sporting Lisbon.

There was very little information on the defensive midfielder at that stage, but a picture has begun to build-up through his consistent participation at U18 level.

Fortunes have been mixed for that age group in recent times, with the Gers crashing out of the Youth Cup at the semi-final stage and also losing to Fife Elite since the turn of the year, following a strong start to the campaign.

However, Balde scored twice in their most recent outing, a 6-2 hammering of Aberdeen, and although the 17-year-old, who idolises N’Golo Kante, has had to adjust his game since his move, he’s looking to kick on sooner rather than later.

“The main difference is that everyone works very hard in Scotland,” Balde told the Glasgow Times. “In Portugal, they don’t work as hard, they don’t do gym.”

“I like playing more in Scotland, every tackle, it’s hard, you’ve got to work hard. I like to pass, to defend. I think I am a better player now, especially when the team don’t have the ball.”

“In the next two years I want to play for the first team. I need to work hard to get into the first team.”

Verdict

Balde is one of a host of talented players at U18 level and he rooms with Kane Ritchie-Hosler, the exciting attacker signed from Manchester City last year.

The interview makes it clear he hasn’t had the easiest of upbringings across his time in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal and it makes him all the more grateful for the opportunities he now has in front of him.

At just 17, he’s still very much in a developmental phase, but it’s clear he’s not at Rangers to drift along at youth level.

Balde, who was recently called up to the Portugal U18 squad, wants to do what so many others have failed to do in recent years, by making that transition from Academy to first-team star. He’s certainly one to watch over the next season or two.