Giovanni van Bronckhorst determined to see Rangers youngsters follow in Nathan Patterson’s footsteps by showcasing talent

Teenager Leon King has become the latest academy product to be integrated into the first-team squad after signing a new deal

Giovanni van Bronckhorst admits Rangers youngsters should look at Nathan Patterson’s big-money move to the English Premier League as the pathway to follow.

The right-back sealed a sensational £16million move to Everton earlier this month and Ibrox boss Van Bronckhorst is hopeful more of the club’s academy stars of the future can take the step up to the first-team.

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The Dutchman handed teenage centre-back Leon King a new deal until 2024 and confirmed he will continue his philosophy of giving a number of the Gers promising youth players a chance to showcase their talent.

Nathan Patterson, Everton Image: everton/twitter

In an exclusive interview with Rangers TV, Van Bronckhorst said: “Nathan going to Everton is a very good move for him - he was very happy to get the chance and to play in the Premier League at his age is quite fantastic, really.

“I was more than than happy to let him go - financially it was a good deal for the club so it was very positive for both parties.

“Nathan was a ‘back-up player’ so it was a win-win situation and basically we don’t get any weaker. He was sold for a record amount and that fits the long-term vision of the club.

“I’m delighted for Leon. That’s what we want - a pathway for our talents to come from the academy to the first-team.

“It’s very important for the club and it’s good for Leon, who will be involved with the first-team now.

Leon King has been invited to the first-team regularly but will now be regarded among Giovanni van Bronckhorst's squad. (Photo by Rico Brouwer / SNS Group)

“The young players at the club should look to what happened with Nathan, because he wasn’t long in the first-team but his talent has been recognised by a big club in England.

“The pathway is there for the young players. At my other clubs I’ve always liked to get the talents involved in full-time training and I’ll do that every chance I can.

“It will give a few of the ones we have at the moment the opportunity to train at a higher level. I’m very happy with the standard and I’ll be pleased to have them coming into the first-team training once in a while.”

Rangers resumed training last week with a six point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership table as preparation began ahead of the return to domestic action following an earlier than anticipated winter break.

Whilst admitting he is happy with how is squad is shaping up, Van Bronckhorst revealed he will bolster his squad further in January after completing the loan signing of James Sands from New York City.

Pre-contract offers are being lined up for Hearts centre-back John Souttar and Vitesse Arnhem captain Danilho Doekhi, while Dundee United goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist is also on the Dutchman’s radar.

Benjamin Siegrist has been linked with a move to Rangers. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

He said: “Of course I read reports about other teams in the league and the business they’re doing but I am quite happy with the squad we have.

“I have confidence in them but if we have the chance to add some plays we will definitely do it.

“James Sands can bring a lot to the squad - he’s a young talent and it’s very good to have him here. He’s very versatile, he can play in defence and midfield and we’re happy to develop him and make him a better players over the next 18 months.”

Meanwhile Rangers youngster Chris McKee has returned to former club Linfield on loan for the remainder of the season.

The 19-year-old striker spent four years in the club’s academy prior to joining the Light Blues in 2018 and has been a vital member of the Gers B team in the Lowland League this season.

McKee, who had a previous loan spell at Brechin City, will work under former Ibrox frontman David Healy at Windsor Park.

Healy said: “He knows all about this club and will fit in easily with the players and staff. His signing will increase the competition levels within the squad.”