Easy to see why Leeds United and Rangers are at odds over 'wonderful player' Ryan Kent

LEEDS UNITED target Ryan Kent's storming start to the new season has come as absolutely no surprise to Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.
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Long before Kent joined Rangers on loan in July 2018, Gerrard had been following Kent's progress for some time.

Gerrard, after all, spent 26 years with Liverpool from 1989 to 2015 and was 23 years old when a seven-year-old Kent joined the Reds Academy.

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By the time Gerrard left Liverpool to join LA Galaxy in January 2015, an 18-year-old Kent was excelling for the club's under-21s and about to sign a new four and a half year deal in March 2015.

HANDFUL: Rangers winger Ryan Kent gets away from Aberdeen's Dean Campbell in his side's season opener at Pittodrie in which Kent bagged the only goal of the game. Photo by Andrew Milligan/Pool via Getty Images.HANDFUL: Rangers winger Ryan Kent gets away from Aberdeen's Dean Campbell in his side's season opener at Pittodrie in which Kent bagged the only goal of the game. Photo by Andrew Milligan/Pool via Getty Images.
HANDFUL: Rangers winger Ryan Kent gets away from Aberdeen's Dean Campbell in his side's season opener at Pittodrie in which Kent bagged the only goal of the game. Photo by Andrew Milligan/Pool via Getty Images.

Five and a half years later, the winger now has first team experience for five clubs spanning five leagues and three different countries and with former Rangers striker Kris Boyd describing the winger as the Ibrox club's best player by a distance.

Leeds tend to agree with the Whites having already made a bid to land the 23-year-old's services which was thought to be in the region of £10m.

Gerrard says the bid was "strongly rejected" with Leeds "way off" from Rangers' valuation of a player who cost the Ibrox giants £6.5m in September 2019 as Kent finally waved goodbye to Anfield after 16 years with the Reds and five loan spells.

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Kent ultimately did not make a Premier League outing for Liverpool but the fact the winger signed a five year deal as recently as August 2017 was proof of the esteem he was held in.

Born in Oldham and joining the Reds aged seven, Kent progressed his way through the club's Melwood Academy and had a particularly impressive finish to the 2014-15 campaign, the season that featured his first new deal.

The winger was then named in former boss Brendan Rodgers' 30-man squad for their pre-season tour of Australia, Malaysia and Thailand and subsequently made what was his Reds debut as a substitute in the 2-1 victory over Australian A-League side Brisbane Roar.

Kent was also handed a squad number for the 2015-16 campaign before joining League One side Coventry City in September on a four-month youth loan.

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Kent quickly amassed ten league starts and seven outings from the bench with the winger scoring his first goal in Coventry's 4-3 win at home to Barnsley in November in which Joe Cole bagged the winner.

Kent was then recalled in January 2016 to be assessed by then new boss Jurgen Klopp and made his one and only first team outing for the Reds when starting the 2-2 draw at Exeter City in the FA Cup third round with Kent taken off after 57 minutes.

Another loan spell then presented itself in the summer with Kent this time taking on the Championship as part of a season with Barnsley.

Forty seven appearances followed including 38 league starts and two full games against Leeds as part of a campaign in which Kent was named the club's young player of the year and scored three times.

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The winger then signed a new five-year deal with Liverpool the following summer before a totally new adventure presented itself with what was supposed to be a season-long loan in the German Bundesliga with recently promoted SC Freiburg.

The campaign proved a bump in the road to Kent's progress with the wide man only making one league start and five outings from the bench for Freiburg before being recalled.

It was a similar story as part of a fourth loan spell away from Anfield in the second half of the season back in the Championship at Bristol City with six Championship starts and four outings from the bench including another against Leeds.

United were already well aware of his talents and in the summer of 2018 Kent headed for yet another country and division, this time the Scottish Premier League as part of a season-long loan at Rangers.

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The stats and accolades for his 2018-19 season say it all - 43 appearances, nine assists, six goals, the club's Young Player of the Season, the PFA Scotland Young player of the year and also named in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year.

Kent headed back to Liverpool and played in seven of the club's eight pre-season friendlies with the winger watched by Whites head coach and keen admirer Marcelo Bielsa as the Reds recorded a 3-1 win against Bradford City.

Kent also featured against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Sevilla with the winger earning rave reviews from Klopp for his performance in the latter.

“Ryan had sensational moments in the Sevilla game – one-on-one situations are his big strength," said the Reds boss.

"He is a wonderful kid, a wonderful player.

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"Very good moments in pre-season, but it is for all the boys always a big challenge as well to show up."

A player even then very much in demand with Leeds wanting to sign the winger who ultimately ended his long association with Liverpool with the permanent transfer to Rangers.

Thirty three outings were in the offing in the curtailed 2019-20 campaign but still eight more goals and with a full pre-season at Rangers under his belt, the winger has started this season with a big bang.

The 23-year-old has already netted three goals from just five starts with Kent now the talk of the SPL as Leeds look to take the winger back to England.

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Notwithstanding some frustration during the 2017-18 campaign, the early stages of his career have been a case of sharp progression with caps for England's under-18s and under-20s coming along the way.

Not turning 24 until November and able to play on either flank or through the middle, it's not difficult to imagine the pacy and skilful Kent eventually bagging an England call.

It's easy to see why Leeds want him, and obvious why Gerrard does not want him to go.

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Thank you Laura Collins