By Nick Ware

4th Jun, 2021 | 7:05am

Rangers lead chase for Kenyan defender Joseph Okumu ahead of Celtic

Rangers have made an offer for Elfsborg defender Joseph Okumu but face intense competition from Celtic, according to Sport Bladet.

The Swedish online news outlet claims the Old Firm rivals are two of five European clubs who have registered interest in the 24-year-old Kenya international, with French side Lorient tabling the biggest bid of £2.5million.

However, Rangers’ offer is still considered “significant”, perhaps explained by the relatively lowly sums talents from the Swedish league leave for. According to Transfermarkt, only five players from the Allsvenskan league have gone for higher sums in the past two seasons.

Sport Bladet’s report also claims that “the risk is growing” that Okumu will not complete the Swedish season with Elfsborg, which is not even halfway through its conclusion.

Reims and Gent are the other two sides named as bidders for Okumu.

Helander replacement?

The central defensive options are stacking up for Steven Gerrard and he will surely have to ship one or two out before the start of next season.

Connor Goldson was an ever-present at the heart of defence in the 2020/21 campaign while Leon Balogun was an able partner next to him and signed a new deal at Ibrox.

Meanwhile Jack Simpson was brought in from Bournemouth in mid-season and will expect to be given the opportunity to impress in pre-season, which should also see the return of the injury-stricken Nikola Katic.

Helander is probably the most obvious candidate to ship out given he is yet to enter his thirties and should be at the peak of his powers, while not making himself an absolutely crucial part of Gerrard’s first XI.

Therefore, the big Swede could find himself surplus to requirements if the club opts to sign Okumu.

In other Rangers news, pundit reviled by Gers fans issues defiant Steven Gerrard prediction amid Everton exit speculation.