Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa could make Liverpool millions in January transfer window
Having twice fought to sign Ryan Kent from Liverpool, first on loan in 2018 and then permanently in the summer of 2019, Steven Gerrard has had to dig his heels in to keep the winger at Ibrox ever since.
Yet could the Rangers manager now be the man to lure the 24-year-old back south of the border himself as he closes in on a move to Aston Villa?
Kent has repeatedly been linked with a move back to England in recent months and interest from Leeds United has never gone away, with Gerrard confirming Marcelo Bielsa’s side had a bid for the winger rejected at the start of last season.
Speaking on Kent’s future back in August 2020, the Liverpool legend said: “The message for sure is “hands off,” he said.
“Ryan is a player we admire very much here. He’s a player we’ve seen develop at Liverpool for a long time then brought him here and he did ever so well on loan.
“We went and bought Ryan and showed a lot of faith in him and he’s progressing very, very quickly here. He’s in a good place and a player we want to keep hold of.
“But yes we have had contact from Leeds and an opening bid has been really strongly rejected.”
Reports earlier this year suggested Leeds were again revisiting that interest, plotting a £15m bid, though Kent remained a coy about a possible summer exit when speaking before a Rangers victory over Celtic.
“It’s just about playing in the now,” he told Sky Sports back in May. “It’s nice to be linked with other big clubs, but you’ve got to understand your duty to where you are.
“As long as I’m at Rangers, I’ll give 100 per cent to the club. “I love this place, it’s done so much for me, so as long as I’m here, my mind is solely focused on Rangers.”
But now his manager has decided it’s time to test his hand in the Premier League, could Kent do the same, with Gerrard’s ‘hands off’ message perhaps becoming a case of not being able to keep his hands off the winger.
Kent will have no regrets about his decision to join Rangers permanently in the summer of 2019, of course.
Following a successful year on loan at Ibrox, and after previous temporary stints with Coventry City, Barnsley, Freiburg and Bristol City, the winger had grown frustrated at his lack of opportunities at Anfield, having only ever made one appearance for the Reds, and decided it was time to move on.
However, he had to be patient throughout the entire summer transfer window before he was able to get his move.
Attracting interest from several potential suitors, Liverpool received enquires from a number of foreign clubs and rejected a £5m offer from Russian side Krasnodar as sides failed to meet their £12m asking price.
Clubs from France and Belgium, including Club Brugge, were also tracking the player, while the Reds also rejected a £4.5m bid from Leeds United the day before the English summer transfer window shut.
In the end he was granted his desired return to Rangers in September 2019, completing a £7.5m move in the final hours of the Scottish window.
Enduring an injury-plagued first permanent season at Ibrox, Kent still managed eight goals from 33 appearances including the opener in Rangers’ first Old Firm win over Celtic at Parkhead since 2010 and a famous European winner away at Braga.
However, the winger reached new levels last season for Steven Gerrard’s side as they won a first league title since 2011 to end Celtic’s 10-in-a-row dreams in their tracks and shone in Europe before suffering a Europa League round-of-16 exit.
Boasting 13 goals from 52 appearances, Kent marked his first start since mid-September with a stunning goal in a 4-2 victory over Ross County last weekend, with Gerrard labelling the effort world class.
“He has come back in a top place,” he said after the game. “You seen the difference he made from the bench in midweek, I thought he looked really dangerous and sharp and I thought he built on that today with a strong 60 minutes.
“The goal was world class, without a shadow of a doubt.
“We just need to top him up from a physical point of view to make sure he is really flying for the semi-final.”
Gerrard is clearly a big fan of Kent and, along with bringing a number of his backroom staff to Villa Park, could he be tempted to sign his soon to be former player for Villa in January too?
While such a suggestion is purely speculative, if he does show any interest, Liverpool could be about to benefit.
As part of the deal that took Kent to Rangers, the Reds received £6.5m upfront, with a further £1m possible in achievable bonuses, while they also negotiated a 20% sell-on profit clause with club bosses confident the winger would return to the Premier League one day.
It appears Liverpool’s prediction could be about to come true this summer.
Whether Kent remains at Rangers in January or if Gerrard does want to bring him to Aston Villa remains to be seen, but the Gers are set to make a healthy profit when he does decide to leave the club.
And whenever that day may be, Liverpool are guaranteed to profit as a result thanks to their constant faith in the winger’s talents despite him failing to make the breakthrough at Anfield.