Sports

Super Eagles outcast hopeful for a new Rangers deal despite limited playing time

Nigeria and Rangers defender, Leon Aderemi Balogun, is hoping to extend his stay with Rangers beyond next summer, Soccernet.ng reports.

The 35-year-old has experienced a mixed season since he rejoined the Glasgow-based club on a free transfer from Queens Park Rangers last summer, playing just 16 games in all competitions for Philippe Clement’s men.

Balogun’s last start for Rangers in the league was in January when he played all ninety minutes in their 3-nil win over Hibernian, a game where fellow Nigerian, Cyriel Dessers got on the scoresheet.

Since that time, the former Brighton man only got 23 minutes of football under his belt before he was recalled into the Gers’ starting eleven on Sunday when they secured a 2-nil win over Hearts in the Scottish Cup, courtesy of a Dessers brace.

Balogun’s earlier contract saga with Rangers

In his first stint at the club, Balogun played 65 games for the 55-time Scottish Champions, but towards the end of his contract, renewal talks broke down after the then coach, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst wasn’t convinced of his abilities. The Dutchman was also worried about the Nigerian’s injury history.

As per Ibrox Noise, the decision to release Balogun for free broke the camel’s back for most of the Rangers’ fans, eventually leading to a fall-out between Van Bronckhorst and the club as they had to part ways.

Will Balogun get a new contract at Rangers?

The former Wigan Athletic defender enjoyed most of his playing time this season under Michael Beale who was fired in October and replaced by Philippe Clement. The Belgian’s arrival signalled the beginning of the end for the Nigerian, as he saw his playing time reduce drastically.

In the past three months, Balogun played 23 minutes of football but was recalled into the starting lineup against Hearts where he played 90 minutes.

He hopes the performance he put in on Sunday will be enough to ignite renewal talks concerning his contract which expires at the end of May.

“I hope so. Has there been talks about my future? Not yet. I don’t know what will happen. I think those decisions will be made within the club within the next few weeks. I hope I get a notification a bit more timely than the last time around! I would like to think I can be quite positive, touching on the manager choosing me on Sunday, but I can’t really tell you, I don’t know yet,” the former Mainz 05 man said in quotes revealed by Daily Record UK.

It is very unlikely that Rangers will offer Balogun a new deal, primarily due to his age, and the reduction of his mobility as he’s unlikely to rely on his pace.

It also looks like Coach Clement is not a fan of the Nigerian, as his replacement, Connor Goldson has been in outstanding form this season, even drawing praise from Balogun himself.

“Connor is brilliant, He always is, whether he is playing or not. In terms of shoe size, I almost make it up to him! But it’s big boots to fill and I feel like a lot of the time, he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. He is always vital and in terms of his communication on and off the pitch, and his presence, it’s not easy to replicate that. He encouraged everyone,” Balogun added.

Rangers have a chance to win the Scottish domestic double but Celtic remain a stumbling block, as they’re three points ahead in the league, and will face Balogun’s team in the final of the Scottish Cup.