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Leon Balogun is backed to feel right at home at Rangers by boss Steven Gerrard

 

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Leon Balogun has signed a one-year deal at Ibrox

Leon Balogun has signed a one-year deal at Ibrox

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Leon Balogun has signed a one-year deal at Ibrox

Steven Gerrard has backed new Rangers recruit Leon Balogun to slot straight into his Ibrox line-up after handing the defender a one-year deal.

The Gers boss was forced to move for extra cover at the back after losing Nikola Katic to a serious knee injury.

And he believes the 32-year-old Nigeria international will provide the solution to his defensive concerns.

Balogun was available on a free transfer after leaving Wigan earlier this week and could see his stay in Glasgow extended if Gerrard decides to take up the option of an additional 12 months on his contract.

The former Werder Bremen, Mainz and Brighton defender was part of the Latics side relegated from the Championship on Wednesday but will go straight into the Gers side looking to put a halt to Celtic's bid for 10 in a row.

Gerrard said: "I am pleased to secure the signature of Leon. He is an experienced centre-half who will add strength and depth to our squad.

"His experience in the Premier League as well as his international pedigree strengthens our squad and will assist in the development of young defenders.

"Leon has just finished a round of competitive fixtures with Wigan so will hit the ground running. He's a positive and bright character and we are looking forward to his influence."

Balogun could get a first look at Ibrox today when Rangers take on Coventry in a closed-door pre-season friendly - but he cannot wait to see his new home packed out.

He said: "I'm coming to a club with incredible history and fan culture. Unfortunately I've not been able to witness it but I'm looking forward to it.

"To have this sort of crowd behind you, that's amazing. I've been lucky enough to have experienced something similar in my career but I just want to experience (a full Ibrox) because everyone has been telling me I have no idea how big it is.

"I'm just looking forward to getting started and getting in touch with the fans. Hopefully we can have some success.

"My oldest friend was a huge Jorg Albertz supporter so it's a proud moment for both of us.

"We never really saw it coming but it's immense."

Balogun moved to the DW Stadium on loan from Brighton in January and while the Latics finished in mid-table, a 12 point penalty for going into administration saw Paul Cook's side relegated subject to the outcome of an appeal.

But with 32 caps for Nigeria - including three appearances at the 2018 World Cup - the German-born defender has just the type of big-game experience Gerrard is looking for as his side look to recover a 3-1 deficit when last season's Europa League campaign resumes against last-16 opponents Bayer Leverkusen.

Belfast Telegraph