Ryan Kent is a game changer who Leeds fans would love, but former Rangers great and Whites loanee Mark Hateley says the Liverpool youngster still has a lot to learn.
Kent has been a summer transfer target for both Leeds United and Rangers, where the 22-year-old spent the 2018/19 season on loan.
Reports emerging yesterday suggested Liverpool are unwilling to sanction a further temporary move for the winger.
Although those same reports claimed his admirers will have to stump up close to £10m to secure his services, Liverpool are expected to listen to offers.
With the confirmed sale of Kemar Roofe to Anderlecht for somewhere in the region of £7m, Leeds are in a position to try and land Kent, while the price tag almost certainly rules Rangers out of the race.
Hateley, who helped the Scottish side knock Leeds out of the 1992/93 European Cup, before spending a short time on loan at Elland Road under George Graham, saw a lot of Kent last season in his role as a Rangers ambassador.
He liked what he saw and believes Leeds fans would too, should a move to the Championship promotion hopefuls come to fruition.
“He was a bit of a game changer,” Hateley told the YEP.
“I think he’s still got a lot to learn.
“Very exciting player to watch as a fan, very quick, very enthusiastic, full of tricks.
“I think he just needs to get games, play, but fans would love him.”
Consistent first team appearances and consistent performances are what Kent needs at this stage of his career, in Hateley’s eyes.
His experience of men’s football, to date, has consisted of a series of loan spells.
Coventry, Barnsley, Freiburg and Bristol City all had the wide man for temporary stints, before his time at Ibrox.
He made 43 appearances for the Light Blues, starting 40 of those, and Steven Gerrard’s side reaped the benefits.
The six goals and nine assists Kent clocked up don’t tell the whole story.
There was a buzz at Ibrox every time he picked up the ball and ‘Kent will tear you apart again’ would ring out around the Glasgow stadium several times during a game.
“I think we probably found the best of him last year up here at Rangers,” said Hateley.
“He’s one of those young players who could have a great future in front of him, he’s just got to be playing football regularly now and enjoying where he’s playing his football.
“That is key now for Ryan because he’s been out on a loan a few times.
“It is what it is. He’s a young player still learning his game.
“But it’s all about playing games now and consistently.
“Ryan has come out and said that in the press, that’s possibly why he enjoyed his football last year.
“It’s wingers getting consistency into the game, not only a young player, but also being a wide player.”
It’s been suggested that Marcelo Bielsa, who has already got a well-stocked collection of wingers, could seek to use Kent in a more central role, which would go some way towards mitigating the loss of Roofe and the presence at Elland Road of just one senior recognised striker, Patrick Bamford.
But while Gerrard, at times, played Kent on the flank of a front three, in a position a little narrower than a traditional touchline hugging winger, Hateley cautions against expecting the youngster to play through the middle.
“He’s a wide player but we saw him in a freer role as well at Rangers, a drifting role, picking up balls in dangerous areas,” he said.
“[Playing centrally] is probably a little bit ahead of him right now; I still think he’s trying to find consistent form in the position he plays.
“I really wouldn’t see that happening right now; I still think he has a lot to learn in his position.
“It’s a different type of football down there as well.
“He’s a really decent player who could have a great future.
“That future could come sooner rather than later if he can find a place he enjoys.”
Leeds, thanks to the Roofe sale, may appear to be in pole position in the race to make Kent a permanent addition, but Hateley hasn’t yet given up hope of seeing him at Ibrox in the blue of Rangers again next season.
“Never say never, that’s what I say.
“I’ve been in football nearly 58 years now and nothing would surprise me in the least.
“We’ve built a pretty strong squad on the back of what we did last year at Rangers and anything could happen.
“It has to suit the player and it has to suit the football club.
“He’s a terrific prospect.”