While they are yet to confirm the identity of their first summer signing, their long-awaited Rangers reconstruction project appears to be heading in the right direction. 

Reports indicate that Jack Butland and Kieran Dowell – who will leave Crystal Palace and Norwich City as free-agents – are both likely to be on their way to Glasgow sooner rather than later.  

Chelsea’s Dujon Sterling, according to The Standard, could pip both Butland and Dowell to the post, however; Rangers closing in on landing the 23-year-old on a ‘long-term deal’ despite interest from a whole host of clubs south of the border. 

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Chelea’s Dujon Sterling close to Rangers move

Sterling, a former England U20 international, has not made a single Premier League appearance at Chelsea. But he will still arrive at Ibrox with plenty of senior experience under his belt; enjoying impressive loan spells at Coventry, Wigan, Blackpool and, most recently, Stoke City. 

And it is the praise Stoke boss Alex Neil bestowed upon the versatile defender during his time at the Potteries which offers an indication as to what Sterling could add to the Rangers roster. 

“Dujon, for me, is arguably one of the best one-on-one defenders I’ve seen. There are very few players who get past him,” Neil tells Lancs Live.  

“He is strong, powerful and determined.”

It’s fair to say James Tavernier, for all his strengths, is not the most reliable defender. While one of Rangers’ most influential creators from right-back, Tavernier’s defensive deficiencies have often been exposed by more high-quality opposition. 

Sterling, then, could be the Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Tavernier’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. What he lacks in attacking thrust – no goals and no assists in 28 games across 2022/23 – he more than makes up for at the other end of the pitch. 

A James Tavernier alternative

Stoke fansite All Stoked Up highlighted Sterling’s timing and his positioning as two of his main attributes.

“Sterling is very good at putting in a challenge when needed, and winning the ball back. He’ll sometimes sell out for a diving tackle, but rarely misses,” they write.

“A big part of defending is being in the right position to start with. This is where Sterling gets ahead of the play and puts himself in great positions to defend. He does a good job not giving attackers any inch to run around him. Or, at the very least, showing them the outside run and then closing down with a tackle.” 

Sterling will bring serious versatility to Ibrox too. This season alone, he has thrived at right-back, left-back, central defence and even further forward in midfield.  

Rangers, meanwhile, have conceded 12 more league goals than Old Firm rivals Celtic in 2022/23. They were also breached a record 22 times during the Champions League group-stages.  

While Tavernier cannot be blamed for that alone, fellow right-back Sterling should help bring a resilience, a discipline and an altogether different option to Mick Beale’s backline. 

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