By George Overhill

18th Sep, 2022 | 11:10am

Calvin Bassey shares promise he's made to Giovanni van Bronckhorst after Rangers exit

Calvin Bassey has promised Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst a “big present” for the role he played in the Ajax man’s career, he told The Mirror.

The Nigerian international defender left Ibrox this summer to sign for the Dutch champions after a stunning transformation during the previous campaign where he went from second-choice left-back to a leading option in the middle of the defence and at full-back.

His £23million fee is a club record price for a player sold, marking a huge profit on the youngster brought in from Leicester, and the 22-year-old has paid tribute to his time in Glasgow as well as the current boss for their influence on him becoming the player he now is.

Speaking to The Mirror he said: “I will always be grateful to Rangers for giving me a chance after I didn’t play a senior game at Leicester.

“I was happy that the transfer was good for the club because they gave me the stage to play.

“I have promised Giovanni van Bronckhorst a big present because he has been such a big influence on my career.

“Maybe Gio will get a pair of wooden shoes, clogs, or tulips.

“That would be funny, but no, no, no, he deserves a bigger and nicer memento.

“I always felt at home at Rangers because the club felt like my family thanks to Gio.

“The manager believed in me and helped me. In my first season I did not play and then Steven Gerrard left and you ask yourself if the new boss is interested in you.

“Giovanni put me in as a central defender from the start, not my natural position.

“I was left-back, but Van Bronckhorst gave me the belief that I can become one of the best central defenders in Europe.”

Growth

Bassey’s career theoretically shows the Rangers business model at its best, having arrived for just a £300,000 development fee [Football Scotland] before starring in the run to the Europa League final and leaving for a big fee, but where that money has gone is more of an issue right now.

It wasn’t such a happy reunion for the Light Blues when Bassey’s former side met his current one in the Champions League group stage earlier this month, with the Dutch giants running out easy 4-0 winners (7 September).

Much as nobody as Ibrox could begrudge the defender his big move to Amsterdam they would certainly love to still have him in the line-up.

Borna Barisic has been similarly inconsistent to how he was last year when Bassey overtook him in the starting line-up, and Ridvan Yilmaz has barely featured.

In the middle John Souttar is a long-term absentee and van Bronckhorst has turned to midfielder James Sands to partner Connor Goldson, with new arrival Ben Davies left on the bench.

The Bears boss is under some pressure currently after a run of three heavy defeats, including that one against Bassey, and a laboured win over bottom side Dundee United on Saturday (17 September), but his influence on one of the undoubted success stories of last season can’t be overlooked, and certainly hasn’t been by the man himself.

In other Rangers news, Graeme Souness blew his top over the midweek events at Ibrox.