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Is it really wise for Rangers to go back to the policy of signing players closer to picking up a pension than starting their careers? After last summer’s disasters, you would say no. However, there will always be exceptions.
One such exception would be the signing of Portuguese defender Bruno Alves. In signing the likes of David Bates and Myles Beerman, Rangers have begun to invest once again in youth. Their obvious interest in Norwich duo Graham Dorrans and Steven Naismith also shows they still wish for real ‘Rangers men’ to be involved at the club too but it is important that their Portuguese coach has allies from his homeland.
In signing Bruno Alves, Rangers would have a go-between, someone who can be close to the manager but remains a player and be able to help his younger counterparts, especially Bates. Alves is 35 now and a veteran of almost 400 clubs games around Europe for Porto, Zenit St Petersburg, Fenerbahce and now Cagliari. He’s certainly been around and knows the game inside and out.
With Clint Hill and Phillipe Senderos (certainly) and perhaps Rob Kiernan leaving the club over the summer, Rangers, at the moment, can only count on David Bates and Danny Wilson as definite first-team centre-backs. Reinforcements will obviously be needed and Alves would bring the sort of ‘here and now’ talent needed to offset the raw potential seen in the likes of Bates.
Alves has managed 85 caps for Portugal and 73 club games in European competitions, showing himself to be unflappable in this environment. He would be ideal for the cut and thrust of Old Firm games and in keeping his cool, will also be a great influence on Rangers’ younger players.
The last time we saw this was back in 2009/10 when Danny Wilson (now back at the club) first broke into the team. At that point, Wilson replaced an injured David Weir and played alongside Madjid Bougherra but could always count on the help of the man he replaced off the field. Weir’s influence was great and Wilson shined, especially in his two Champions League games that season.
Wilson is the classic example that shows what can happen when young players have the right people around them. David Bates really is a top prospect for Rangers and can go on to become one of Scotland’s best. The signing of Alves may yet prove to be the missing piece of the jigsaw which turns him into the finished article.