JON TORAL might not have been a name familiar to most Rangers fans before this transfer window, but Mark Warburton knows exactly what the attacking midfielder will add to his squad.
The Light Blues boss took Toral to Brentford from Arsenal on a year-long loan deal in July 2014 and was immediately impressed with the Spaniard’s ability on the pitch and his personality and work-ethic off it.
The following season Toral enjoyed another successful loan spell, this time at Birmingham City, and he would win the Supporters’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards with the Blues in 2015/16 after making 38 appearances and scoring eight goals, one of which was selected as Goal of the Season.
A lack of game time at La Liga side Granada in the first half of this season has been frustrating for the talented 21-year-old but Warburton was always keen to work with him again and is delighted to be getting that opportunity at Rangers.
Speaking to RangersTV the manager said: “Jon is a very intelligent boy. I liked working with Jon, he came through the Barcelona academy and he moved to Arsenal alongside Hector Bellerin.
“A very, very talented player, a very respectful player, an articulate individual so delighted to work with him.
He’s technically gifted, tremendous left foot, sees the pass early, scores goals and did a great job at Birmingham.
“He was the Player of the Year and won Goal of the Year and fully justified as well, so having worked with him and watched him at Birmingham there are no doubts about his ability.
“I think he was frustrated at Granada not to get more pitch time, certainly his talent warrants that, so delighted to get him on board.
“Again, all thanks to Arsenal. We have a good relationship but Arsenal have worked closely with us and we are very thankful to them for their help.”
With Niko Kranjcar currently injured Warburton believes Toral can play in the number ten role the Croatian is so effective in while also being able to move across the midfield.
He said: “I love the flexibility. Look at Barrie McKay, he is comfortable at seven, ten, eleven; he can play across the front there quite effortlessly.
“Jon as well, I think his best position is probably the ten, in behind the striker. He can also play wide right, wide left, he can play eight, so we have that flexibility and the options to look at.
“So we’re delighted with that but there is no doubt he’s a quality act and I hope the Ibrox crowd are looking forward to seeing him play.
“His technical base, his technical ability is first class. He comes from the famous La Masia [Barcelona’s academy] and they had some very talented ball players, but Jon stood out and they had high hopes for Jon.
“He has an eye for goal, his demeanour, he is very laid back, he’s very respectful, a disciplined individual who is great to work with.
I have a lot of respect for Jon in terms of his character and his playing ability, but he is ready to push on.
“The first six months of the season probably frustrated him in terms of lack of pitch time but there is no doubt about his quality.
“I’m sure we beat a number of Championship clubs who were very keen to secure his signature so we’re delighted with that.”
Having worked with Toral before Warburton is confident that Rangers’ latest signing can hit the ground running in Scotland.
He added: “If you know the boy, if you know his character, you know his discipline, you know his work ethic, you know his commitment and his focus, if you know that in advance it reduces the risk dramatically.
“Rangers need to add quality in this window if we can and if it’s available. So if we can lessen that risk then we’ll do so.”
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