You would not have guessed that this was Jonathan Panzo’s first Championship start in nearly three months.  

If the weekend’s evidence is anything to go by, there were clearly no lasting after-effects following that niggling knee injury. During Coventry City’s 2-1 triumph over Reading, the Nottingham Forest loanee marked his return with the sort of composed, commanding performance which explains why, according to the Daily Record, Rangers have installed him as a key summer target. 

Lining up on the left-hand side of Mark Robins’ three-man backline, Panzo completed five tackles and a further five clearances, per WhoScored. More than anyone else on the Coventry team.

His 87 per cent pass completion rate was also a Sky Blues high; Panzo showcasing his mix of technical and physical gifts during a win which lifted the Championship’s dark horses up to fifth place in the table. 

Coventry City v Reading - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

“An excellent return to the starting line-up,” writes the Coventry Telegraph. “Winning plenty of headers and personal battles, and bringing the ball out well to help his team get forward.  

“(Panzo was also) strong on the ball when facing his own goal.” 

Rangers like Nottingham Forest defender Jonathan Panzo

Ben Davies is currently holding down the left-sided centre-back role under Mick Beale at Ibrox. The impending departure of Filip Helander, however, means another will still be required. And Panzo, the former Monaco, Chelsea and England U21 stopper who joined Nottingham Forest for £1.5 million, certainly ticks plenty of boxes. 

At 6ft 1ins, Panzo is a centre-back cut from the same cloth as Connor Goldson. Strong, physical and impressive in the air, yes. But also capable of starting attacks as well as stopping them, with those piercing passes into midfield. 

At 22, going on 23, Panzo would also arrive at Ibrox at a similar stage in his career to Goldson when he joined from Brighton and Hove Albion back in 2018. Ready for regular first-team football, but well down the pecking order at his current employers. Joe Worrall, Felipe, Moussa Niakhate and Scott McKenna are all currently ahead of him in Steve Cooper’s pecking order at Nottingham Forest. 

Beale knows Panzo well

Should Coventry secure a return to the top-flight after over 20 years away – and they could very much do just that – then Panzo may soon be offered the chance to show his parent club what they are missing at the very highest level of English football. 

Rangers may have an ace up their own sleeve, however. Ross Wilson, Nottingham Forest’s new Chief Football Officer, spent a number of years at Rangers, and is understood to have a good relationship with Mick Beale.

Beale himself, meanwhile, has spoken openly about his interest in bringing players he knows and trusts. And Panzo once worked with the Gers boss during his time in Chelsea’s academy.

“If the window goes how I plan it to go, then you’ll be able to trace a lot of the players back to some that maybe I’ve worked with (before),” Beale explains.

“Or you’ll be able to see the links. They’ll be clear.”

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