Until this past week, you’d be struggling to find a Rangers fan who was talking about Johnly Yfeko, and with good reason.
The young centre back joined the club from Leicester back in January 2022, where he showed enough in the B Team set-up to be given a new extended deal just four months later.
A defensive player making the move up North from Leicester? Where have we heard this before?
Of course, the previous player to make this journey was of course one Calvin Bassey, who made the same move just 18 months prior to Yfeko.
Within the space of two years, he went from virtual unknown, to Europa League final juggernaut, to £20m Ajax star.
However, Yfeko’s tenure to-date at Ibrox is not far that of his predecessor, but his name remains far away from the public agenda, with his places in the first team squad being few and far between aside from the one spot on the bench at the height of the club’s defensive crisis against St Johnstone last November.
So why is he all of the sudden a name on many fan lips?
Well it comes on the back of two impressive pre-season displays off the bench against Newcastle and Hamburg.
Such were the young man’s performances that it led Michael Beale to say after the latter game that he has given him something to think about with just two weeks until the new season commences.
It couldn’t have came at a better time as well for the 20 year old as well, as fans still hold a lot of concerns about the side’s stability in the centre back position.
Connor Goldson remains the undisputed first choice, but it remains up-in-air how quickly he will be able to put last season’s injury issues firmly behind him, whilst John Souttar has won over the support in recent times and looks to be the favourite to partner the Rangers vice-captain.
Outside of that though, there remains a level of trepidation, with Ben Davies unconvincing, Leon Balogun nothing more than a back up, and Leon King currently on the treatment table.
From what we’ve seen so far, Yfeko has all the abilities to be an all-round combating defender in the modern game. He appears to show no fear when it comes to bringing the ball out from the back, and, more important, is more than willing to put his sizeable frame in front of any ball that comes close to the goal.
If anyone has seen the video that circulates around Twitter every now and again, especially recently with his rumoured transfer to Fulham, the comparisons with Bassey look to have more to them than just the Leicester connections.
Whether he is able to get close to the Nigerian international’s ability remains unknown, and of course, there have been youngsters who have shone bright during pre-season with little follow-up substance, but if he is able to show what he produced in his pre-season cameos in more substantial on-field minutes, then he could be an effective player to have around our squad going forward.
He could even save us a bit of cash which could help in our pursuit of Danilo and Cifuentes, which could be a win-win all round.