It seems that we can finally put an end to the rumours of Brandon Barker returning to Preston. The winger is allegedly heading to join Rangers today.
The winger spent last season on loan at the club from Manchester City, arriving alongside Lukas Nmecha. After showing some promise with Hibernian, North End were hoping that Barker could give Alex Neil’s side a new dimension with his pace.
Sadly, it never really worked out for Barker. There were glimpses, glimpses of real quality. He’s quick, direct and skilful, and an absolute nightmare for defenders to face – especially late in games.
However, he was unreliable in terms of injuries, picking up a number of muscle problems, and inconsistent in terms of end product. When he returned to Manchester City this summer, we all assumed his time at Deepdale was up.
However, there have been shock rumours about a return to the club for Barker. Alan Nixon and The Sun claimed last month that North End were pursuing a deal to re-sign the 22-year-old, ideally on loan.
The LEP backed that up, suggesting that a permanent deal was too expensive, but there was loan interest again. Barker himself has fuelled rumours, tweeting about North End a number of times and posting photos with current Preston players.
We’ve made it to deadline day without Barker being signed, and it looked unlikely after the arrival of Andre Green last week. Now, reports north of the border claim he’s all set to join Rangers.
If Barker is going for free, it’s a huge surprise that Preston haven’t tried again. I’m not Barker’s biggest fan, but I could at least see value in a freebie move.
Rangers director of football Mark Allen knows Barker from City, and with Ryan Kent no longer returning to Ibrox, Barker has a chance to settle down and make himself a star. Barker has a long way to go before he can really be a Kent replacement, and avoiding injuries will be key.
This seems like a calculated gamble for Rangers though, and hopefully Barker can realise his potential at Ibrox. As for North End, the deadline is fast approaching, and three signings are needed. A winger – unless it’s a quality player like Scott Sinclair – isn’t a priority, so maybe that’s why Alex Neil isn’t back in for Barker now.