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KENT ‘ON A PAR WITH JOTA,’ INSISTS EX-GERS STAR – AND BETTER THAN ABADA, FORREST AND MAEDA

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RYAN KENT is every bit as good as Celtic fans’ favourite Filipe Jota.

And the Rangers winger, who has struggled to score goals on a consistent basis, is BETTER than the champions’ wide Bhoys Liel Abada, Daizen Maeda and James Forrest.

That’s the blunt verdict from former Ibrox goal hero Kenny Miller who is urging his old club to offer the former Liverpool prospect an offer to keep him at the club for years.

Kent cost £7million when Steven Gerrard brought him from the Anfield club over three years ago, but will be able to walk away for FREE at the end of the current campaign.

ON THE BALL…Ryan Kent is a class act, but former Gers striker Kenny Miller believes he should be among the goals.

The one-time Scotland international striker has no doubt about the talent of the 25-year-old touchline ace and rates him extremely highly.

Miller said: “How do you solve a problem like Ryan Kent? If I was Giovanni van Bronckhorst or the Rangers board, I’d start by getting him tied down on a new long-term contract.

“That might surprise a few people given his and the team’s current form. But, with just eight months left on his deal, the club simply can’t afford to willingly allow a player of his ability and value to walk out the door for nothing.

“First and foremost, they have to protect their asset. Remember, Rangers invested £7million in Kent in 2019. That was a lot of money for a young player with limited experience.

“But Steven Gerrard knew his potential. The board put their trust in his judgement and that’s why they paid out the biggest transfer fee for a player in 15 years. So now, they should be doing everything in their power to ensure he doesn’t leave for free.

“Obviously, Kent has to want to stay. If he commits he can get his head right, forget about any potential moves away and get back to his best form.”

PICK IT OUT…Filipe Jota lobs the ball over Rangers keeper Jon McLaughlin for Celtic’s second goal in the 4-0 win at Parkhead at the start of the month.

Miller, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “There has been constant debate about Kent since he arrived.

“Overall, has he been a good signing? Undoubtedly. His natural talent isn’t in question. But I’ll tell you what, there is still so much more he can give to this Rangers team. The glaring omission from his game is goals. And when you’re at Rangers you’ll always be compared to players on the other side of the city.

“Jota and Liel Abada have really caught the eye for Celtic since they arrived in Glasgow.

“They’ve provided goals, assists and a constant threat from wide areas. Kent’s goal stats simply haven’t been good enough. His biggest goal return in a campaign at Rangers so far is 13, in 2020/21. Last season he played 46 games and scored just three.

“When you’re playing almost every minute of every game for a club like Rangers, that’s not enough. So he has to contribute more.

“We see flashes of brilliance from him – but other periods when he goes missing.”

DOUBLE TOPS…Liel Abada celebrates his second strike against the Ibrox side while Matt O’Riley joins in the celebrations.

The hitman, who had three stints at the Govan club, added: “Top level teams are wary of Kent, we’ve seen that in Europe recently. Is he capable of scoring the amount of goals that Jota and Abada get for Celtic?

“They’ve already got four and six respectively. That’s already more than Kent got last season.

“So, until this point, you’d have to say no. But it’s down to him. I’ve noticed that he IS trying to get in the box more and get on the end of things.

“But to score goals, you need to have instinct. And it’s about gambling. Kent has to do that more. Celtic’s wide players are trained to make diagonal movements into the box, just like Abada did in the Old Firm game a few weeks ago.

“Rangers’ structure is different. But Kent can still do more to anticipate chances in the box. It might not happen for him nine times out of 10. But that one time could win you a game.

“It’s a frustration because when it comes to talent and technique, he’s better than Abada, James Forrest or Daizen Maeda at Celtic. And he’s certainly on a par with Jota, in terms of ability.

“But those players look hungrier to score goals. It’s a non-negotiable that they attack the box. Rangers and Kent aren’t doing that right now. But that doesn’t mean you let a £7million signing walk out the door.

“When he’s on his game, Kent can be frightening. He’s direct, has pace, can chop on to either foot and fool his markers. He’s electrifying when he’s in full flow.

“You know it’s there. It’s up to him now to produce – and getting his future sorted will help him do it.”

Kent fired blanks against Gers’ 2-1 win over Dundee United in Glasgow yesterday with Antonio Colak, celebrating his 29th birthday, claiming a double.

There was a scare for Van Bronckhorst’s team when Liam Smith pulled one back, but they held out for a much-needed win after three consecutive heavy defeats against Celtic (0-4), Ajax (0-4) and Napoli (0-3).

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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