By George Overhill

4th Jun, 2022 | 8:11am

QPR boss Michael Beale eulogises Leon Balogun after news of his Rangers exit

The new QPR manager Michael Beale wrote a touching tribute to Leon Balogun after the news that the defender is set to leave Rangers.

The club announced on Friday (3 June) that the 33-year-old was going to leave Ibrox upon the expiry of his contract, along with Andy Firth, after two seasons.

It was thought that the Nigerian international may be set to follow centre-back partner Connor Goldson in extending his stay, with Jordan Campbell writing in The Athletic earlier the same day that he was “under offer” of a new contract.

But after his departure was announced former Light Blues coach Beale, who was Steven Gerrard’s assistant for the title winning campaign, wrote on his personal Twitter account: “Leon Balogun was outstanding for RangersFC – both on the pitch but also around the changing room.

“He is a “personality” leader who gives his team mates so much positivity and guidance on a daily basis. Take a bow”.

Beale was himself announced as the new head coach at Loftus Road this week, having left Gerrard’s Aston Villa.

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With the surprise news earlier in the week that Goldson had signed a new four-year contract it looked like the expected overhaul of the squad might not occur.

The early flurry of interest in Calvin Bassey appears to have died down with the club making clear they are going to demand a record fee, which Alan Nixon has suggested could have priced him out of a move.

There is still a long way to go to hold off interest in the likes of Joe Aribo and Ryan Kent, but while it was presumed that the squad could be picked apart, it looks like the club have other ideas.

But the departure of Balogun is a blow since he has been a key member of the squad, albeit for a short time, but a time that saw the 55th title win, the run to the Europa League final, and the ending of the cup drought.

He made 37 appearances across the marathon 2021/22 season, and a total of 65 in his time at Ibrox, and his absence will be felt.

With the emergence of Bassey as a force in the centre he had sometimes had to settle for a place on the bench, which the arrival of John Souttar and the re-signing of Goldson would have made more common.

Youngster Leon King is set to be the main beneficiary of his exit as the teenager looks to become more involved.

So, while as a character it is a shame to see the former Wigan man go, his opportunities were likely to be diminished, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst may miss his influenced around the Rangers dressing room.

In other Rangers news, some extra details of shock Gers contract news make it even more impressive.