Glasgow Rangers are reportedly in the market to add a full-back to their playing squad before the end of the January transfer window, which opened for business over two weeks ago.
Rangers’ search for a full-back
According to the Daily Mail, the Light Blues are one of a number of clubs showing an interest in versatile West Ham United defender Ben Johnson.
The report claims that Leeds United are keen on the young full-back, whilst Premier League side Sheffield United and Rangers are both monitoring his situation.
It states that the English dynamo has turned down his club’s attempts to tie him down to a new deal and the Hammers are now looking to rake in a fee to sell him permanently this month before his contract expires in the summer.
Philippe Clement could now land his next Dujon Sterling by securing a deal to sign Johnson, as the England U21 international is another dynamic defender who can play in a multitude of roles.
Sterling’s progression under Clement
The 24-year-old arrived from Chelsea as a right-back under Michael Beale last summer but has now emerged as an option for the new head coach in central midfield.
Of his five starts for the Scottish giants this season, he has started three times in the middle of the park and caught the eye with his impressive displays.
Vs Celtic (30/12/2023)
Dujon Sterling (via Sofascore)
Pass success rate
As you can see in the table above, Clement trusted Sterling to play in midfield against Celtic last month and the English gem produced an excellent display as he showcased his reliability in possession and his terrific defensive qualities off the ball.
The stats that show why Johnson could be Sterling 2.0
Johnson could be the next version of the ex-Chelsea prospect at Ibrox as he is a full-back by trade but also has the ability to play in midfield.
He has played the majority of his career matches as either a left-back or a right-back – like Sterling prior to his move to Scotland – and has featured as a central or defensive midfielder seven times.
This suggests that the West Ham dynamo is comfortable coming into central areas and could, if Clement opted to deploy this tactic, invert into midfield in possession when starting as a right or left-back to give Rangers added control in the middle of the park.
The £33k-per-week ace, who coach Stuart Pearce described as “wonderful” to deal with, showcased his quality on and off the ball during his team’s winning Europa Conference League run last season.
Johnson started six games in the competition and averaged 2.9 tackles and interceptions to go along with a duel success rate of 64%, which shows that opposition players found it difficult to get the better of him in physical contests.
He also ranked within the top 28% of his positional peers for progressive passes (4.11) per 90 and the top 23% for progressive carries (1.03) per 90, which shows that the young gem likes to progress the ball forward through passes and carries to push his team up the pitch.
Therefore, Johnson could either be deployed across the defence, on either flank or at the heart of the backline, and use his skills in and out of possession to be a solid operator, or Clement could make him his next Sterling by seeing if his impressive qualities can make him an effective central or defensive midfielder.