'Huge amounts of natural talent' - The Liverpool verdict on Rangers target Sheyi Ojo
Sooner or later Rangers are expected to complete the loan signing of Liverpool forward Sheyi Ojo.
The 21-year-old will reportedly sign a long-term deal with the Champions League winners before making the move north, following in the footsteps of Ryan Kent and Ovie Ejaria.
Rangers fans hope he will be joined by Kent after the success of the winger in the light blue during the season just past.
The duo could be dual threats for Steven Gerrard's side next season. While Kent plays from the left, cutting inside onto his right, Ojo prefers the right and coming infield onto his left. Both players are flexible in that they can play across the attacking positions supporting the striker - he has played as a No.10 for England at youth level.
In recent years they have had very similar careers, with nine loan spells between them. Yet, it wasn't supposed to be this way for Ojo.
Aged just 14, he was at the centre of transfer Battle Royale with Europe's biggest clubs circling the player who was playing with MK Dons.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “I had quite a lot of choices. At home there was Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal – who have always been my team – Everton, Tottenham and Fulham. I wasn’t ready to go abroad but there was interest from Ajax, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan."
There was real excitement, He featured for the first team aged just 18 and helped England win the Fifa U20 World Cup in 2017 . The Echo described him as a "pacy winger who has been hailed as the next Daniel Sturridge or Raheem Sterling".
But he lost his way.
"It is worrying than none of his loan moves have worked out pretty well," John Gibbons from The Anfield Wrap tells The Scotsman. "He's had problems with injuries, but there have also been question marks about his attitude from fans of clubs who have watched him.
"We have to remember with Ojo that he was a multi-million pound footballer at 14. He was doing photo shoots for newspapers with his girlfriend before he'd made a first team appearance.
"He's starred for England at all age groups. You just had a feeling with some of the loan moves he struggled for motivation. Like he felt he was above it all, which you can't do in the Championship.
"But maybe Rangers will be the making of him."
The motivation aspect isn't something Gibbons is particularly concerned about with the player potentially turning out at Ibrox. On the contrary. The big stage, European games and the demands to win could be the platform required to provoke his talent.
"Big club, huge crowd for him to play in front of and he'll see plenty of the ball," he said. "Steven Gerrard will know him well and wouldn't have taken him if he didn't feel he could succeed where other managers have failed and unlock the considerable talent he has."
It's that talent which Rangers fans should be excited about. He has the capability to really make a name for himself at the club with sparkling displays.
"Exciting. Very direct. Skilful and quick," Gibbons said when asked to describe Ojo. "He is player who can make goals and score them.
"He has huge amounts of natural talent. He has the ability to go round players like they aren't there and when he is running at the opposition he is so dangerous. He really backs himself on the pitch which is good. He feels like he belongs on the big stage.
"In terms of weaknesses it is mainly just the usual stuff with young attacking players. Decision making, drifting out of games and keeping his head up. It is fair to say he is better facing the goal than with his back to it as well."
Rangers fans have experienced two different sides of the coin when it comes to Liverpool loanees. While Kent thrived, Ejaria seemed to mope. Gibbons, however, backs Ojo to go the way of the former.
"Well he's more experienced than Ejaria was/is so I think much more ready for a move to Rangers," he said.
"The comparisons to Kent are interesting in that Ojo was much more widely tipped at an early age, but whilst Kent has made the most of his abilities and opportunities, Ojo arguably hasn't. But playing wise both Ojo and Kent have the ability to get you off your seat. If he goes well fans will certainly enjoy watching him."
The short-term will likely be Govan and Scottish football but looking further ahead, a future at Anfield is unlikely and would require a pretty special spell at Ibrox.
Gibbons explained: "When he was 18 and featuring in the first team there were high hopes for him, but that was over three years ago now and Liverpool have moved on and other young players, like Rhian Brewster and Harry Wilson, have moved ahead of him.
"Of course a brilliant year at Rangers might change all that, but I would imagine for Liverpool the aim of this loan move is to increase his value to sell."
A lot can happen in 12 months but this time next year Rangers fans will be hoping they are in the position of pleading for the player to swap Anfield for Ibrox permanently.