Why Rangers must go ahead and seal the deal for Jake Cooper
The two clubs have been in contact for several weeks, with Millwall making clear they want to hold onto Cooper after the defender’s impressive performances last season. Rangers, however, are resolute to make the powerful Millwall defender their 10th signing of Steve Gerrard’s tenure.
Despite already signing defenders Jon Flanagan, Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic, Gerrard remains keen to further bolster his defensive options, with Bruno Alves joining Parma after just one season at Ibrox. And Cooper should fit the bill perfectly at Rangers.
Cooper, a product of the Reading academy, impressed throughout the youth levels and signed his first professional contract with the club in June 2013. The defender made his senior debut for Reading in 2014 and a year later, he extended his contract with the club until the summer of 2018.
Whilst Cooper impressed in the 2015-16 season, he ended up on loan at Millwall in 2017 and made his move permanent last summer after failing to convince Jaap Stam. The 23-year-old impressed in his loan spell with Millwall and subsequently signed a three-year contract extension with the club last summer.
Cooper made 42 appearances for the Lions last season and was a part of the joint-third strongest defence in the Championship. The 6ft 4in giant was a regular in the club’s defence under Neil Harris and also managed to score 4 goals.
Just a year after landing him from Cagliari, Rangers have offloaded Alves to newly-promoted Serie A side Parma. In fact, the Gers terminated the veteran Portuguese’s contract that freed him to leave the club.
Despite possessing bags of experience and top pedigree, Alves struggled to match the intensity and the pace of the Scottish Premiership. No doubt, injuries also played a part in hampering his progress but overall, the 36-year-old failed to live up to the billing in his 12-month stay in Glasgow.
Alves’ departure will create a hole in Rangers’ defence which Gerrard has already filled with the signings of Goldson and Katic. But signing Cooper would not only bring physicality to Rangers but also provide Gerrard with depth in the squad. Due to Cooper’s physical attributes and style of play, he is tailor-made to ply his trade in the Scottish Premier League.
Bolstering Rangers’ defence was a smart move by Gerrard, considering that Rangers shipped 50 goals in the Premiership last season. Gerrard’s intention to add another defender shows that he is not a man to take risks and will enter the battlefield next season well equipped.