Yesterday at 14:30 hours Rangers confirmed officially the shock return of Leon Balogun, a defender ever-popular with Ibrox fans, and greeted with overwhelming positivity.
Ibrox Noise polled the audience, and we have to admit after a few initial sceptics and moaners, around 95% of all polled opinion once the signing was official was completely optimistic and happy to see the big Nigerian back.
So where do we stand on Ibrox Noise?
We’re delighted, but with an air of caution.
Leon Balogun, by a distance, is the best defender the Scottish game has seen for years. The colossal stopper is, obviously huge at 6ft 3, strong, fast, aerially dominant and exceptionally good at reading the game. He has no weakness to his game.
He is vastly superior to Connor Goldson, and at Ibrox only John Souttar comes close to pushing Balogun in terms of quality. Vickers over there is the best they have, but given the toughest challenge Rangers have given him was Scott Wright and a disinterested Morelos, we suspect he’s been made to look a wee bit better than he actually is.
Back on Leon though, Balogun isn’t just a superb stopper, he’s brilliantly adaptable – as we alluded to before, that wee Japanese guy is still finding his way out Balogun’s back pocket after being absolutely ruined when the Nigerian played RB, and this gives James Tavernier some proper competition in that position too.
Now, this signing was a bit of a panic, we know that – Michael Beale has hinted that it was in the offing for two weeks, and Ibrox Noise has suggested that the 35-year-old was coming back to Ibrox under this manager at some point anyway, but the utter urgency for it recently was motivated by two injuries – Dujon Sterling and Leon King.
And the wages are outstanding – sources indicate Balogun is only costing Rangers barely £10,000 a MONTH! He has come back to be happy, not rich, and we understand the wage is somewhere between £3,000-£5,000 a week, which is potentially as little as £12,000 a month.
But… there is the one big downside to Leon Balogun, and we all know what it is.
The ex-Werder Bremen man had a pretty shabby time with injuries at Ibrox – he managed, admittedly a decent 65 appearances in two seasons, but he missed a fair chunk of football – he only managed 37 Premiership appearances in those two seasons, which is missing basically half of the domestic season.
But bear in mind he was also plain benched 23 times as well, so the matches he didn’t play in weren’t all missed through injury.
And we have to be brutally honest and admit that after a great start at Queens Park Rangers, then-under Michael Beale of course, he sustained an injury and missed basically the whole season down south.
So we have to temper our excitement at seeing him back with the reality of bad his injury history is.
If he can stay fit, and that’s a massive if, Rangers have the best defence in Scotland with him beside John Souttar – but the reality is we doubt he can, and we will still need another body in there this window.
Either way, it’s lovely to have him back, maybe just maybe he can stay fit more often than not.