By George Overhill

14th May, 2023 | 1:15pm

Leon Balogun returns to Ibrox for Celtic clash amid Rangers return speculation just days after QPR release announced

Leon Balogun was at Ibrox for the Old Firm derby amid speculation that he could make a return to Rangers following his release by QPR.

The 34-year-old centre-back left the Light Blues last summer when his contract expired and was eventually signed at Loftus Road by Michael Beale, but subsequently revealed he had never wanted to depart and had hoped to be offered a new deal [Beautiful Game Podcast, 6 December, 30m 30s].

QPR announced he was being let go from the struggling English Championship side on Thursday (11 May), with the Scottish Sun reporting that the Gers were “on alert” over the situation.

The former Gers man posted on his Instagram stories on Saturday (13 May) revealing his was in the Ibrox stands to watch his ex-teammates in the Old Firm derby, demonstrating his ongoing connection to the club at a time when there is set to be plenty of movement in terms of personnel.

On his way back?

Beale is in the market for a new defender this summer, with Arsenal’s Birmingham loanee Auston Trusty linked to a £2million move [Daily Mail, 8 May], as Filip Helander is set to leave when his own deal expires.

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The Ibrox boss had posted his admiration for Balogun when the Nigerian originally left Rangers before then signing him south of the border prior to his own move in the opposite direction.

A return to the Light Blues isn’t going to be the move that proves to be the difference in the SPFL either way, and John Souttar’s performance in the 3-0 victory over Celtic provided encouragement that he can be the partner to Connor Goldson going forward.

But the ex-Hearts’ man has had terrible injury issues and Ben Davies has had an up-and-down time of it in Glasgow so far, so it isn’t a wild stretch of the imagination to see Beale preferring to bring back a veteran presence he knows he can trust, even as a back-up option.

The Rangers boss made a famous appearance in the Ibrox stands while Giovanni van Bronckhorst was still in charge prior to his own return to the club, so while it might not be of the same significance it may be that Balogun is set to follow his lead.

A lot of moves are expected this summer, and this one would be an easy one to get done since the centre-back is available and almost certainly willing.

Whether it makes sense from a footballing and a financial point of view will be the key, which Beale has to weigh up in the coming weeks.

In other Rangers news, Tom English has raved about one “excellent” Gers ace against Celtic who could have spelled “good news” for Beale in the future.