Transfer Talk: Why Gerrard wants to make Joey a Ger
Rangers won the Scottish Premiership at a canter last season — but Steven Gerrard is still looking to bolster his squad.
The Gers' long unbeaten run came to an end against Dundee United at the weekend and they face a tricky task to overturn a 2-1 deficit at home to Malmo tonight in Champions League if they want to reach the final stage of qualifying.
That is why Gerrard wants new faces and Heerenveen midfielder Joey Veerman, 22, is top of his list.
With Feyenoord and Verona seemingly cooling their interest in Veerman, we take a look at what the young Dutchman could bring to the Scottish Premiership.
New connection needed
If your surname was Veerman, you shone in a Heerenveen shirt last season — despite it being a largely unsuccessful campaign.
Henk Veerman, no relation, led the goalscoring charts for De Superfriezen with 14 goals, while Joey, 22, was next on seven.
Despite not being linked through DNA, Henk and Joey struck up a great football connection — five of the central midfielder’s 10 assists in 2020-21 were for his namesake up top.
So who would benefit from Joey’s potential arrival?
It would undoubtedly help fiery striker Alfredo Morelos, while Cedric Itten would welcome more creativity following a frustrating first season at Ibrox.
Itten, 24, scored just four times in the league and the Dutchman’s arrival could potentially provide the spark needed for the Swiss forward to start firing.
Line of succession
Heerenveen have been notable for nurturing young talent, with plenty who have stepped through the doors of the Abe Lenstra Stadium going on to have successful careers at some of Europe's elite.
After stepping up from the second tier at Volendam, Veerman will be aiming to follow in their footsteps.
Moroccan playmaker Hakim Ziyech graduated from the Dutch side’s youth system to make his senior debut in 2012.
Moves to Twente and Ajax followed before making the jump to English football and joining Chelsea.
Additionally, Heerenveen were the side entrusted by Real Madrid to develop Martin Odegaard in a loan move that took him away from the Spanish giants for 18 months.
Rangers fans will be hoping that Veerman's careers goes on a similar trajectory to some of his predecessors.
Where would Veerman fit in at Rangers?
The Glasgow side have a wealth of midfield options already at their disposal, so on paper it might be hard to see where Veerman will fit in.
With Glen Kamara, Joe Aribo, Ryan Jack, Scott Arfield and Steven Davis, Rangers already have a host of established names.
Summer recruit John Lundstram brings with him Premier League experience, but rotation will be key as Gerrard’s side look to fight on all fronts again — domestically and in Europe.
Another midfield arrival, who is a similar age to Veerman, is Nnamdi Ofoborh. But a medical following his free transfer flagged up issues with the 21-year-old’s heart.
The former Bournemouth man signed a pre-contract back in January, and will not feature in the short-term.
Veerman’s flexibility will also be a big tick for Rangers, as he can be deployed anywhere in the central midfield, often dropping deep last year as Heerenveen adopted a more defensive approach.
Definition of box-to-box
Veerman averaged an impressive 0.22 goals scored per 90 minutes in the Eredivisie last season, which is one of the reasons why the midfielder is such an attractive proposition for Gerrard.
With an additional 0.22 assists per 90, Veerman was involved in a goal in just shy of every other game he played.
He remained a constant attacking threat, delivering an average of 1.25 completed crosses and drawing 1.53 fouls each game.
But it is his desire to get stuck in which will be crucial to any potential success he will have at Rangers.
During 2020-21, he made 5.24 interceptions and won 7.0 defensive duels per 90, all while keeping his record clean with just three yellow cards.
And it is that sort of willingness to get involved in the dirty work that should make Veerman a real fan favourite if he ends up at Ibrox.