Giovanni van Bronckhorst has returned to Ibrox as the new manager of Rangers.

The former Netherlands international has been charged with replacing Steven Gerrard, who left the Scottish Premiership champions to take over as Aston Villa boss last week.

Van Bronckhorst won five trophies with the Glasgow giants in his playing days, including two league titles.

The 46-year-old masterminded Feyenoord's 2016-17 Eredivisie title triumph, while he also lifted the KNVB Cup twice and the Johan Cruyff Shield before taking charge of Chinese Super League club Guangzhou City last year.

Van Bronckhorst is relishing the challenge of winning more honours at Rangers.

The ex-Barcelona and Arsenal man will be fully in charge once he is granted a work permit.

"I am absolutely delighted to be returning to Rangers as the club's new manager," Van Bronckhorst told the Rangers official website.

"I feel so lucky to be going to work with a squad which is in a great position on all fronts and largely has that experience of being winners. I'm grateful for the chance to work again at this huge football club."

Rangers sporting director Ross Wilson revealed Van Bronckhorst had been earmarked as a potential replacement for Gerrard long before the Liverpool legend's departure.

He said: "I am delighted to welcome Gio back to Rangers. He was respected throughout Europe as a player and has already shown why he has that same respect as a coach.

"Gio has already shown himself to be a winner, he knows the club, he knows the quality of the squad and is absolutely aligned with our approach and mindset.

"Gio has been part of a long list of managers we have been tracking for a period of time to ensure we are always ready. When Steven intimated his decision last Wednesday, we immediately got to work on what was then a focused shortlist. We held initial talks within 48 hours and concluded our decision-making within six days of the role becoming available.

"We found agreement with Gio extremely quickly and we have enjoyed working with him on assembling the backroom team that will complement an already excellent support staff that we have built here at Rangers."

Steven Gerrard insists he does not see the Aston Villa job as "a stepping stone" towards becoming Liverpool manager.

The Reds legend took the top job at Villa Park last week, agreeing terms on a deal that runs until 2025 after calling time on his Rangers stint.

Gerrard had guided the Gers to their first Scottish Premiership title success in 10 years last season and left with the Ibrox club four points clear of rivals Celtic.

The 41-year-old takes over a Villans team who lost their last five in a row under Dean Smith, with Gerrard seeking to lead a revival that would enhance his own reputation as a manager.

But he does not see his new club as a stopping-off point en route to a potential return to Liverpool.

"I'm all in, and I will give this job everything that it needs for it to be a success. I'll be 100 per cent committed and so will my staff," Gerrard said at his first Villa media conference on Thursday.

"[It's] very unfair, and you'll never hear me saying it's a stepping stone. For me, I'm really honoured and proud to be in this position.

"There is nothing wrong in football with having dreams and aspirations, but Liverpool have got a world-class coach [in Jurgen Klopp] that they are very happy with.

"If he was to sign a lifetime deal right now, then I would be very happy for them and him."

Gerrard won 125 of his 193 games in charge of Rangers for a win rate of 64.8 per cent, with his longest winning run being a nine-game streak that ended in November 2020.

His first game at the Villa helm is at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, while his return to Anfield will come on December 11.

The former England international is third on the list of all-time appearance makers (710) for Liverpool, and he has been tipped as the likely man to replace Klopp one day.

"He's a great man and a great coach," Gerrard added. "I think Liverpool are very lucky to have him at the helm, and I'm a Liverpool fan, so long may that continue.

"He sent me a message and said he's looking forward to a big hug on the side on 11 December, so it's something for me to look forward to."

Steven Gerrard accepts he is taking a risk by swapping Rangers for Aston Villa but says a new challenge in the Premier League was too big an opportunity to turn down.

The 41-year-old was confirmed as Dean Smith's successor as Villa head coach last Thursday on a reported three-and-a-half-year contract.

Gerrard guided Rangers to a couple of second-place finishes before ending the Glasgow club's 10-year wait for Scottish Premiership title success last season.

He departed Ibrox with the Gers four points clear of Celtic in top spot and with their Europa League knockout-stage hopes still in their own hands with two group games to play.

The Liverpool midfield great is taking on a different challenge in his second senior coaching role, tasked first and foremost with guiding Villa away from the relegation zone.

While fully aware of the task on his hands, Gerrard is relishing the opportunity to manage in a league he spent 17 seasons playing in with Liverpool.

"Aston Villa sells itself – an iconic football club," he told VillaTV. "I know it well from the outside and I'm very much excited to get involved inside and start building relationships.

"I like a challenge. I like a risk. It's something I'm really looking forward to getting into. 

"This club will suit me because I know the fans are very passionate and there's a demand and pressure to win. That's something I've lived with since I was 17.

"I was first aware of Aston Villa's interest last Wednesday. I had a call from my representation, and when the phone call sunk in, I wanted this to happen very quickly, because first and foremost the opportunity was too big."

Gerrard won 125 of his 193 games in charge of Rangers for a win rate of 64.8 per cent, with his longest winning run being a nine-game streak that ended in November 2020.

That compares to a 39.6 per cent win rate for Smith across his 139 Villa matches, but Gerrard admits managing in the English top flight will provide a sterner test.

"I have to respect that the leagues are very different in terms of level, but I've learned a lot over the past three-and-a-half years," he said.

"I've lived under that pressure and demand to win. There was a big building job to be done, and I can walk away with my head held high.

"Going into another league, that's something we'll adapt to. I've played many years in the league, and I've got an experienced group of coaches who are a real rock to me. 

"We'll also use existing staff, so I look forward to building relationships."

Gerrard, whose first Villa game is at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, faces an emotional return to Anfield on December 11.

The former England international is third on the list of all-time appearance makers (710) for Liverpool and he has been tipped as the likely man to replace Jurgen Klopp one day.

However, Gerrard's sole focus for now is on new club Villa, who are two points above the relegation zone following a run of five defeats in a row.

"I don't think me or anyone else will be able to control the noise [regarding Liverpool]," Gerrard said.

"For me that's not important. What's important is the chance to go to Anfield and win. That's the attitude we'll have going into every game. 

"It is what it is. I want to win every game that I play in, now my priority and focus – and everything I will give on a daily basis – will be for Aston Villa.

"One thing I can guarantee the supporters, the players and the staff here: when I commit to something, I'm all in."

Ange Postecoglou is in the midst of the biggest job an Australian coach has held in men's club football.

Postecoglou changed the landscape of the game in Australia and left a legacy in Japan, where he conquered the J1 League with Yokohama F.Marinos before he was lured to Glasgow by a wounded Scottish powerhouse Celtic, dethroned by bitter rivals Rangers.

After some initial backlash, Postecoglou has Celtic fans dreaming of glory through an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football and unrelenting belief in his philosophy.

But to get a clear picture of Postecoglou – the most decorated coach in Australian football – and his journey to Parkhead, you have to go back to his days at boyhood club South Melbourne.

Most know about Postecoglou's love for South Melbourne, where his passion for the sport grew alongside his father after immigrating from Greece.

Postecoglou went from juniors to seniors, winning two titles as a player before delivering back-to-back NSL titles as a coach and an unprecedented spot alongside Manchester United at the 2000 Club World Cup in Brazil.

Michael Petersen saw the making of Postecoglou unfold before his eyes. The former South Melbourne and Australia midfielder had been involved with the Australian great since around the age of 10 – the pair initially clashing in a junior rivalry between South and Port Melbourne.

Petersen eventually joined Postecoglou at South Melbourne in the late 1980s.

"He was a natural leader," Petersen told Stats Perform. "In a lot of ways, probably needed to get up to speed personally, but it was an invisible leadership. But he was always serious about his football. He loved the club. So his loyalty was unquestioned."

A trail-blazing coach, Postecoglou's career in the dugout is well-documented but he was also successful on the pitch – the former defender is considered to be one of South Melbourne's greatest players, having won eight pieces of silverware, while earning four international caps for Australia.

However, Postecoglou's career was cut short due to a knee injury.

"He was underestimated [as a player] but obviously he got wiped out pretty young at 27," Petersen said. "I think you're just coming into your professional career [at that age]. At the time, South Melbourne had a lot of good players in all the lines so he probably went a little bit unnoticed but not in our changing room. He was very well respected. You obviously don't make someone captain if you're not first on the teamsheet, so he was always first picked on the teamsheet."

 

Postecoglou's success has been shaped by his father, Dimitris, and legendary Hungarian Ferenc Puskas.

The 56-year-old played under Puskas from 1989 to 1992, forming a close bond, before launching his own coaching career at South Melbourne.

Postecoglou was appointed in 1996 and former general manager Peter Filopoulos was instrumental in the ex-captain's rise from skipper to coach.

"Every time I spoke to Ange, I felt like I was educated about football. Because I was an administrator. I never played at the high level. I was a little bit more educated about South Melbourne's history and he was very proud of South Melbourne history, the club and he always had these really big aspirations for the club, but also big aspirations for football in Australia as he still does," Filopoulos said.

Postecoglou's transition from player to senior coach at South Melbourne almost did not happen following the sacking of former Socceroos boss Frank Arok.

After a 3-0 loss away to Marconi in March 1996, Arok was relieved of his duties and Postecoglou put in charge on an interim basis for the remaining three games of the season.

"I remember getting the long bus trip to the airport from Fairfield and Frank had slumped in his chair and was just sulking a little bit. The players started to misbehave and were bantering. It was as if they had won 3-0, not lost 3-0. I could see Ange to the right of me was just not amused at all right, I'm sitting at the front of the bus as the official. And it got to the stage that it was out of control on the bus," Filopoulos recalled. "He went up to the front of the bus and picked up the microphone. He said, 'You listen to me, you blokes'. It was silent and he said to them, 'I've played for this club from under eights, right through to every level of South Melbourne, I've worn this jersey for every team age group, to the seniors, I captained this club and won championships. If you want to muck around, no problem, we lost 3-0 but I just want to tell you my perspective, today was the worst performance I've seen of any, any South Melbourne team of any age group in my entire career. So if you guys are happy with yourselves, and you want muck around on the bus, why don't you just reflect on the disgraceful performance and how you disgraced the team jersey today and the club'.

"That was it. There was silence for the rest of the bus trip. And then we got to the airport. And there was all these shuffling of the boarding passes. No one wanted to sit next to Ange. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, right? But I remember thinking to myself back then this guy has something special."

However, Postecoglou – who was working in a bank at the time to supplement his salary of being an assistant coach – was not even in the equation to make the step up permanently after winning all three games as South Melbourne's hierarchy eyed bigger and more established names.

"I'd be in the board meetings as a general manager, and they'd be speaking about Zoran Matic and [former Australia coach] Raul Blanco, all those big names of the time. Ange came into the office and he wasn't really mentioned around the table. They all thought he'd automatically be an assistant," Filopoulos said.

"He goes to me what's going on with the coaching gig? And me naively, I said we had a meeting last night and we're talking about Matic and Blanco. And Ange goes, 'What about me big fella?' I said, 'Are you interested?' He said 'Yes I am, I am interested'. I said, 'Well Ange, if you're interested, you need to make it known'. I thought, I wonder what the young fellas thought. We had the younger committee members and older ones. I remember ringing up some committee members and I threw Ange's name in the mix and over a few conversations, you have to give him a chance to present.

"So what I did back then, we were a very close-knit social group, the younger guys and I set up a barbecue at my place. The coaching conversation came up. And everyone's talking about those big names again. And then Ange said, 'You know I'm interested right?' And someone said, 'What? Are you really interested?' Ange started talking about his philosophy and ideas. It went for like 30 minutes. It was like a full-on pitch without knowing it was a pitch. He finished and it was dead silence. The vice-president at the time said 'Ange you're our f****** coach mate'. That was it. We lobbied hard and got him through. It was tough to get it through. There were some really older guys who weren't convinced.

"Ange got the job. And a lot of people would say that was a foresight. I would say, sometimes it was instinctive that it was the right decision. He changed everything. So there's me as general manager, it was actually quite good, because there was all these expectations and all these different things he wanted in place, which meant I worked pretty hard for him to deliver it."

 

But it was not all smooth sailing after fighting tooth and nail to appoint Postecoglou – a run of just one win from seven games to open the 1996-97 season had some South Melbourne committee members calling for Ange's head.

Filopoulos said: "There were a few phone calls from committee members and I remember one guy, he said 'you need to get rid of him at midnight tonight so no one sees him leave the club because you've made a mistake, and because you orchestrated all of this, you can follow him behind'.

"It came down to the eighth game at Marconi for a coach's career, really, because the pressure was on. We won after a scrappy 87th-minute goal. Had we not won that game, it would have been a different future for Ange. The rest is history. After that, he improved our football club. He took it to another level. We became a true destination club."

"So a similar story to Celtic, it takes some time, right? Because he does, on my experience, he turned our program upside down. He has meticulous detail and thought process, even to the point of dressing room access," he added.

Petersen, who also served as Postecoglou's assistant during his tenure as head coach of the Young Socceroos, experienced the "seamless" transition from player to coach up close and personal.

"There's layers to having a good football IQ. There's layers to it," said Petersen, who was told his playing career was ending by Postecoglou. "Ange has always had it. No, not even an issue. Very, very astute. I can rubber stamp that from, from way, way back. And that's to a point is if you love something, you really go deep into it. He goes deep into, you know, picking a football team for any matchday is a bit of a puzzle. You've just got to put the whole thing together, you've got to get the right balance of energy, skill sets. Who's going to actually perform on the day for that given day?

"He doesn't get it wrong a lot. And I can say that, but I think his history shows it. He's managed to get it right on the big days. It's by design, it's not coincidence. He gets it right. You can read all the books in the world. And you either got that gift, or you don't have that gift."

"At the time [after coaching South Melbourne to NSL glory] I thought Ange was Australia’s modern-day version of Alex Ferguson," he continued. "To this day I haven't changed my mind as I have watched him evolve and succeed and continually challenge himself and the type of football his team produces. Ange wins and wins well with style and grace."

 

From South Melbourne to Australia and Japan, Postecoglou has won it all – a pair of National Soccer League championships, back-to-back A-League titles, a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos and a J1 League crown with F.Marinos – while silencing his doubters.

Postecoglou, like Manchester City's Pep Guardiola and former Juventus and Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, pushes the boundaries. Firmly set in his belief of how football should be played, Postecoglou's approach never wavers and success follows in his pursuit of excellence.

That has always been the case for Postecoglou.

Recalling Postecoglou's first steps in senior coaching and his pitch-side antics, Petersen – who also worked alongside Ange at South Melbourne after retirement – said: "We almost had a rule, no one was allowed to talk on the bench. If you're gonna say something, it's gotta mean something, otherwise chitter chatter and joking around, none of that. So there's none of this micro-coaching, if you like. Ange was almost locked in tune with the game. He was actually very, very still, quiet and measured."

Postecoglou is known for not getting too close to his players and Petersen added: "I think that's a maturity beyond his years in a sense that he always, because he probably had to start coaching young and he kind of realised early that you do have to draw a line from mateship because players are insecure creatures, and they'll look for any way to get a way in and if you can be pals, you might jag a spot because he likes you.

"Ange never did that. He made decisions that were based on what was best for the club, not necessarily on the individual. Even as a captain, looking back, he was galvanising the hierarchy, the directors of the football club, everything was all about what was best for the football club. I think that's rare to see players who do that. And then already when they transition into assistant coach and then senior coach, you knew there was a line. And that was all right. I think, in the wash-up, once you know the rules of a gaffer, you love it, you go, 'Okay, well, I know where I stand, I've got to perform'. And it's not just performing in games, it's performing at training. We have to perform, every training session means something.

"We joke around in the changing rooms and then we had fun. We had ghetto blasters, telling jokes. I think the moment we hit the football pitch, for that block of time, for an hour and a half, it was business. There's no laughing, football is serious. Because you laugh and joke, you lose football games. So you train how you play. So the intensity should always be at training. I think Ange knew that already at a young age – perform at training, transition that into games, and then whatever happens after hours, yeah, let's have some fun as well."

Liverpool great Steven Gerrard has left Rangers to take over as Aston Villa head coach.

Villa parted ways with Dean Smith on Sunday after a run of five straight Premier League defeats.

Determined to make a swift appointment, it quickly became apparent that Gerrard was Villa's leading candidate, and that move has now been confirmed.

Villa did not announce the length of their new coach's contract, although it is reported to be a two-and-a-half-year deal.

"Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach," Gerrard said.

"In my conversations with Nassef [Sawiris], Wes [Edens] and the rest of the board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.

"Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future."

The former Liverpool and England midfielder, who also played for LA Galaxy, was handed his first senior job in management when he took over at Ibrox in 2018.

Gerrard guided Rangers to second in each of his first two seasons, before they cruised to the Scottish Premiership title last term.

Rangers' success was their first in a decade and ended Celtic's hopes of a 10th consecutive crown.

The Gers are four points clear at the top of the Premiership and still in contention to make the Europa League knockout stage, but Gerrard has decided to swap Glasgow for Birmingham.

Villa have won just three league games this season and sit 16th, having sold talisman Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100million.

Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia were brought in to help replace Grealish, but fitness issues have meant the attacking trio have rarely featured together so far.

Villa nevertheless have a strong squad, and Gerrard will be hoping to push for Europe in his first venture into Premier League management.

"It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven's coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa," Villa CEO Christian Purslow said.

Gerrard's first reunion with Liverpool will come on December 11, when Villa visit Anfield, while his first game in charge will be against Brighton and Hove Albion after the international break.

Former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith has died at the age of 73.

Smith holds legendary status at Ibrox, having won 21 trophies during two spells as boss of the Scottish champions.

He also masterminded the Glasgow giants' run to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 and managed his country from 2004 to 2007.

Smith was also in charge at Everton for almost four years and spent time as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said in a statement on Tuesday: "On behalf of the Rangers board of directors, staff and players, I convey my deep condolences to the Smith family. Walter leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

"It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first team manager.

"I spoke with Walter as recently as last weekend. Even when he was battling illness, he was still able to provide advice and support. For that, I am personally grateful. I know that he continued also to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard.

"Walter will be sorely missed by all of us at Rangers.

"Winning 10 top-flight titles as manager, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups, as well as leading his club to the UEFA Cup final in 2008, he will be remembered by the football community across the world. His spells as Scotland manager as well as managing in the English Premier League underlined his credentials as one of the great modern day football managers.

"However, for Rangers supporters, he was much more than just a football manager. Walter was a friend to many, a leader, an ambassador and most of all -a legend."

Former Rangers manager Mark Warburton expressed his sorrow, writing on Twitter: "Devastating news to hear of the sad passing of Walter Smith. A man who was always on hand to help with advice and support. My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this most difficult time."

Dusan Vlahovic decision not to extend his Fiorentina contract is set to spark a bidding war.

Fiorentina had been hopeful of re-signing their star forward.

Now, Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Serbia international.

 

TOP STORY – VLAHOVIC EYEING JUVE MOVE

Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic is dreaming of a move to Juventus, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Vlahovic's future is a hot topic after Fiorentina announced the Serbia international will not re-sign in Florence.

Contracted to Fiorentina until 2023, Vlahovic has been tipped to make the move to Juve like former Viola team-mate Federico Chiesa, while Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Arsenal have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport says City forward Raheem Sterling is open to a loan move to Barcelona in January. Sterling has found himself out of favour under Pep Guardiola in Manchester.

Manchester United are prioritising a new right-back in January to provide competition for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, reports 90min. Rangers' Nathan Patterson and Max Aarons of Norwich City have been linked.

- It is only a matter of weeks before Lautaro Martinez extends his Inter contract, per Fabrizio Romano. Inter are also set to open talks with midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

- Roma have re-opened talks to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach, claims Gianluca Di Marzio. Zakaria is out of contract at the end of the season, though Roma are set to try to bring in the Gladbach star in January. 

- The Daily Mail claims Tottenham are eyeing Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger. The Germany international is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juve, Real Madrid and Atletico.

Milan are monitoring Salzburg trio Luka Sucic, Brenden Aaronson and Maurtis Kjaergaard, according to Calciomercato.

Crystal Palace have completed the signing of Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard on a four-year deal.

Edouard joins for a reported £15million and becomes the Eagles' seventh arrival of this transfer window under Patrick Vieira.

The 23-year-old scored 86 goals in 179 appearances during his four-year stint at Celtic. His last game for the Scottish giants was Sunday's Old Firm derby, in which he missed a golden chance in a 1-0 defeat to rivals Rangers.

A former France youth international, he won three Scottish Premiership titles with the Hoops, as well as two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.

"I'm very happy to be here today," he told Palace's official club website.

"I can't [wait] to start to train with the team and to play for this club. 

"Scoring goals in the Premier League may be the biggest challenge in my career. 

"But I'm confident in myself and my team-mates to be successful."

Edouard arrives with Palace 14th in the Premier League having collected two points from their opening three games.

He could make his debut when the Eagles welcome to Tottenham to Selhurst Park on September 11.

Rangers overcame plenty of adversity to clinch a 1-0 victory over OId Firm rivals Celtic thanks to Filip Helander's brilliant header.

Hit by a raft of COVID-19 cases, with manager Steven Gerrard among those isolating, Scottish champions Rangers still had the better of Sunday's derby and found a deserved breakthrough in the 66th minute.

Helander met Borna Barisic's corner with a thumping header to score his first Old Firm derby goal, sending a vociferous, albeit wholly one-sided due to coronavirus restrictions, Ibrox crowd into ecstasy. 

Ryan Kent had previously hit the post for Rangers, with Helander's header punishing the profligacy of Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, who missed a golden chance midway through the first half as the Hoops' winless run against their Glasgow rivals in the league was extended to seven matches.

An enthralling, end-to-end start should have culminated in Celtic taking the lead in the 25th minute, yet Edouard – hunting his eighth league goal against Rangers – somehow skewed wide of a gaping goal from five yards out.

Kent did much better at the other end seven minutes later, beating Joe Hart with a sublime curling effort, but the upright came to Celtic's rescue.

Playmaker Kent tried another curler on the stroke of the hour, only to send his strike straight at Hart for a comfortable save.

Rangers' pressure finally told after the hour, however – Helander rising to meet Barisic's inswinging delivery, with Hart unable to keep out the centre-back's towering header.

Helander almost went from hero to pantomime villain straight from the restart when his slip enabled Kyogo Furuhashi to steal in, but on his league debut for Rangers, stand-in goalkeeper Robby McCrorie made a fantastic save to spare his team-mate's blushes and seal victory.

What does it mean? A big, big win for Gerrard

Rangers cruised to the title as Celtic capitulated last season, but the Hoops look a different proposition under Ange Postecoglou, though he has now become the first manager to lose his first league Old Firm derby match in charge of Celtic since Tony Mowbray in October 2009.

Gerrard will have been kicking every ball from home during the contest, no doubt, and given the adversity Rangers have faced this week, not to mention a gruelling trip back from Armenia, it feels like a statement win from the champions.

McCrorie's nerves of steel

If you are going to make your Premiership debut for Rangers, you might as well do it in the biggest game of all.

Having made his Rangers bow in the Europa League on Thursday, 23-year-old McCrorie came up with two terrific saves in the second half, twice denying the lively Furuhashi.

Edouard found wanting

Only against Motherwell (10) and Hamilton Academical (eight) has Edouard netted more league goals than against Rangers, while the Frenchman – who has been linked with a move away from Celtic before Tuesday's transfer deadline – had scored (seven) or assisted (three) 10 of the Hoops' last 14 strikes against their rivals in the top flight.

However, he fluffed his lines in some style on Sunday, missing from point-blank range and a frustrating day for the forward came to an end shortly after Rangers had taken the lead. His miss was his only shot, while he managed just 19 touches in total. If he is to leave Celtic, it would not have been how he wanted to bow out.

What's next?

Celtic host Ross County after the international break, while Rangers face St Johnstone. Both of those games take place on September 11.

Harry Kane made his first appearance for Tottenham this season on Sunday amid speculation about his future.

Kane has been linked with a big-money move to Manchester City, having reportedly told Spurs he wanted to leave late last season.

Spurs have postured that they are steadfast in wanting to keep their star forward, though it has been claimed they may be tempted if City up their bid to around £150million.

TOP STORY - CITY TO MAKE FRESH KANE BID THIS WEEK

The Telegraph claims that Manchester City will make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy remains stubborn.

City want to bring in Kane to bolster their attack but have reportedly been unsuccessful with a £100m bid previously.

The report claims City will make a further bid this week for the England captain ahead of the closure of the transfer window at the end of the month.

 

ROUND-UP

Tottenham have reached out to Juventus to discuss a potential deal for United States international Weston McKennie, with Tanguy Ndombele expected to be involved in a player exchange according to Tuttosport.

- Corriere dello Sport claims that Napoli have contacted Barcelona's Miralem Pjanic about a move to Italy. Barca are reportedly hoping to offload several players to ease their financial situation, with midfielder Pjanic among them.

- Sport1 claims that RB Leipzig remain interested in signing Barcelona youngster Ilaix Moriba and may make a move if Marcel Sabitzer leaves the German club.

- Rennes will permit Eduardo Camavinga to leave for €35m as the closure of the transfer window approaches, reports Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea and Manchester United are among his admirers.

- Romano also reports that Chelsea will sell Davide Zappacosta to Atalanta, with personal terms already agreed.

Burnley will rival Southampton in their interest for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, claims the Daily Record. Italian club Sampdoria are also keen on the Scotland international.

Lionel Messi was the topic of plenty of speculation in recent weeks before inking a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 34-year-old left Barcelona as a free agent after two decades with the Catalan club, unable to stay despite wanting to continue his career there.

But rumours are swirling already about Messi's next move after PSG, even though he has yet to even make his debut for the Ligue 1 side.

 

TOP STORY - BECKHAM HOLDS MESSI TALKS

Inter Miami owner David Beckham has held talks with Messi about joining the MLS club after his PSG contract expires, reports The Mirror.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder has promised to bring a superstar player to the club, with links to Cristiano Ronaldo in the past.

According to the report, Messi purchased six luxury penthouse apartments in Miami a few weeks ago, adding fuel to the fire.


ROUND-UP

- Manchester City will need to up their bid for Harry Kane to Tottenham by £50million to convince Spurs to sell, reports The Mirror. City have reportedly tabled an improved bid since their £100m offer and are said to be willing to go as high as £120m.

- Newcastle are ready to make a move to sign Everton's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez, according to fichajes.net.

- Milan are interested in a move for Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva for £45m (€52m) according to Star on Sunday.

- The Sun claims that Southampton are looking to complete a bargain deal for Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Celtic have announced the double signing of Joe Hart and James McCarthy.

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Hart, twice a Premier League champion in 12 years at the Etihad Stadium, joins after spending last season with Tottenham.

The 34-year-old, who has 75 England caps, was limited to 10 appearances in 2020-21, eight of which came in the Europa League.

Hart has signed a three-year contract, while McCarthy, who left Crystal Palace at the end of the season, has agreed a four-year deal.

"This is a great moment for me in my career and I am absolutely delighted to be joining a club of Celtic's stature," Hart said via Celtic's website.

"I know just how big this club is and of the incredible support that it enjoys, and I can't wait to play in front of the fans at Celtic Park."

Manager Ange Postecoglou said: "I'm delighted that we have signed two top-class players in Joe and James. Both of them have a wealth of experience at both club and international level, and that is something which can only benefit the squad, and I'm looking forward to working with both of them.

"I know our supporters will be well aware of both players, and I'm sure they'll welcome them to the club and look forward to seeing both of them play for Celtic in the seasons ahead."

Celtic began their Scottish Premiership season with a 2-1 loss to Hearts last week.

They suffered a Champions League qualifying exit to Midtjylland three days earlier.

Newly-promoted Premier League side Brentford have confirmed the signing of centre-back Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic.

The Norway international has penned a five-year deal with the Bees for what is reported to be a club-record fee of £13.5million.

Ajer has spent the past five seasons as a Celtic player, which includes half a season on loan with Kilmarnock in 2016-17, and has also previously played for IK Start in Norway's Eliteserien.

He featured 177 times for Celtic in all competitions and was a key part of the club's run of 12 successive trophies in four seasons before their spell of dominance was ended in 2020-21.

A statement on the Scottish club's official website on Wednesday read: "Everyone at Celtic Football Club wish Kristoffer every success in his future career down south and thank him for his role in the club's success in recent years."

Ajer is Brentford's second signing since earning a first promotion to the Premier League in May with victory over Swansea City in the play-off final, with Frank Onyeka joining earlier this week from sister club FC Midtjylland.

Brentford head coach Thomas Frank told his side's official website: "We wanted to get another central defender in, and Kris was our first choice. We think he fits the position specific profile perfectly, especially on the ball.

"Kris is very composed and can find the right passes between the lines. His level when bringing the ball forward is very high. 

"As a defender he has the physicality that you need, and he won his duels when he played in the Scottish league. He can help us in both boxes, with his strength in the air.

"He is a player at a good age, and we think he come straight in and be ready to perform in the Premier League. 

"But he also fits the way we want to recruit players and work with them. He can develop as a player and both Brentford FC and Kris can move to a higher level in the coming years."

Manuel Locatelli is hot property after helping Italy win Euro 2020.

The Sassuolo midfielder is understood to have an ambition to play Champions League football in 2021-22.

Sassuolo are ready to cash in on their prized asset with interest coming in.

 

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS RAMP UP LOCATELLI INTEREST

Juventus are ready to usurp Arsenal in the hunt for Sassuolo's Italy international Locatelli, according to The Guardian.

Sassuolo want €40 million (£34.3 million) for the midfielder but Juventus offered €30m as a loan for the 2021-22 season with an option to buy, which Sassuolo declined, insisting they want an outright transfer.

Arsenal were previously understood to be in the box seat to sign Locatelli, given they are prepared to pay their asking price, but Juve's interest may have changed that situation.

ROUND-UP

- New Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti wants to sign Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dalot spent last season on loan with Milan.

- Jose Mourinho's Roma have joined the race to sign Villarreal's 25-year-old winger Alfonso Pedraza, according to Calciomercato. ChelseaMilan and Barcelona are also keen on the Europa League winner, who can play at left-back.

- L'Equipe reports Chelsea have offered Bayern Munich a player swap deal with Callum Hudson-Odoi in exchange for Kingsley Coman.

- The Daily Express claims Brighton and Hove Albion will prepare a move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard once the reported £50m sale of Ben White to Arsenal goes through.

Arsenal are also reportedly keen on Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as they prepare for Hector Bellerin's exit, according to the Express.

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