Rangers have completed the signing of versatile US International James Sands on an initial 18-month loan deal with an option to buy outright.
The 21-year-old, who can play at centre-back or as a defensive midfielder, joins from New York City and becomes Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first signing as Light Blues manager.
GlasgowWorld reported yesterday that Sands was on the verge of sealing his move to Ibrox and his arrival comes just 48 hours after academy graduate Nathan Patterson sealed a club-record transfer to English Premier League side Everton.
He created history by becoming the first ‘homegrown’ player to develop through the New York City academy, formed in 2013, into the first-team set-up before going on to make 69 appearances for the MLS club.
Sands, who have seven caps for the US national team, was part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup-winning team last summer and also helped his New York City team-mates beat Portland Timbers to win their first ever major trophy, the MLS Cup under former Celtic boss Ronny Deila.
His 26 starts last season were rewarded as he was named as the club’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ for 2021.
Sands, who will wear the number 19 shirt, follows in the footsteps of former United States stars Claudio Reyna, Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu to play for Rangers.
Commenting on his move to the Scottish champions, he said: “I’m very excited to be joining Rangers Football Club.
“It is an incredible opportunity for me to join a club with such a winning history and worldwide fan base.
“Additionally, I’m looking forward to joining an ambitious and talented group of players and coaches. I am certain that Rangers will progress me as both a player and as a person.
“I would also like to thank NYCFC for the role they have played in my development so far. I have and continue to receive amazing support from everyone involved with the club.”
Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst admitted he had been tracking Sands for a while and insists his ability to play in several different positions was a key factor in his decision to bring him to Rangers.
The Dutchman added: “James is a player who I have been aware of for some time. His versatility was a big attraction and I’ve been impressed with his attitude and mentality in the games that I have watched recently.
“He is a talented young player with areas of his game which we will endeavour to develop through our coaching.
“I am looking forward to getting him onto the pitch and starting to work with him.”
Sporting Director, Ross Wilson, stated: “Signing James is a really interesting opportunity for us, and one we are all excited about.
“We reached agreement a couple of weeks ago for the transfer to be structured as a loan for this season and next, whilst we have negotiated and secured an exclusive option to buy beyond the initial loan period.
“Our scouting team has tracked his strong evolution over the course of the season with the MLS Champions New York City and we have identified a lot of potential in James.
“Gio has looked closely at what he can bring to Rangers and I know working with the manager and our staff, James will develop his game further here.
“Aside from his qualities with the ball, his versatility and tactical understanding, we also know that James is a brilliant character, positive personality and despite his young age, is already showing impressive leadership qualities.
“Naturally we faced competition from some excellent European clubs to sign James. I am delighted that he shares our belief that Rangers is the next step in his exciting journey.
“Finally, I extend my thanks to David Lee at New York City FC for his assistance in making this deal happen.”