Physicality, versatility, wide passing range - what Rangers can expect from Bongani Zungu in twist to deal
In a season when Rangers can’t afford to carry any passengers in their first team squad, Bongani Zungu appears to tick a lot of boxes for Steven Gerrard.
The Rangers manager made it clear at the weekend that his search for a midfielder before the transfer window closed would only be concluded successfully if he could find a player capable of going straight into his starting line-up.
Ever since Rangers’ interest in Zungu was first revealed by Joe Crann in The Scotsman back in July, there have been questions raised over the 27-year-old’s fitness.
But the major stumbling block to reaching agreement on a deal which is now on the verge of being concluded was the transfer fee of around £3.5 million initially demanded by Zungu’s French club Amiens.
That was regarded as too steep for a player who is in the final season of his contract with the Ligue 2 outfit. Zungu is now poised to join Rangers on loan before signing a pre-contract deal in January which will make the move a permanent one next summer.
The South African international is match fit, having returned to the Amiens side for their last two league games.
Zungu began his career as a winger or striker with University of Pretoria but was converted to a central midfielder by Pitso Mosimane, regarded as one of the greatest coaches in South African football history, when he moved to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2013.
He quickly became an integral member of the Sundowns side, winning the domestic title in 2014 and 2016 during his time with South Africa’s most successful club.
Zungu has been deployed as a holding midfielder, using his physical attributes and ability to receive the ball in tight situations to good effect. While adept at breaking up opposition attacks, Zungu is also reputed to possess a wide range of passing which allows him to contribute significantly in any central midfield position, including as the main playmaker.
He earned a move to European football when he joined Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal in 2016 before Amiens, newly promoted to Ligue 1 at the time, signed him for £1.8 million a year later.
Zungu helped the unfashionable club from northern France finish 13th in what was their first season of top flight football in their history, before a knee injury sidelined him for much of the 2018-19 campaign when Amiens defied expectations again to stay in Ligue 1.
A regular again last season, Zungu suffered disappointment when the French season was curtailed by Covid-19 in March with Amiens four points adrift of safety at the time. After a failed bid by both Amiens and Toulouse to overturn their controversial relegations in court, they have returned to Ligue 2 this season.
Zungu has been capped 27 times by South Africa, scoring four goals, and represented his country at the Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Egypt last year when they lost out in the quarter-finals to a Nigeria side which included his prospective new team-mate at Rangers, Leon Balogun.
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