Norwich City midfielder Kenny McLean’s former coach says that Rangers made a mistake when they let him go as a teenager.
McLean was released by Rangers as a 16-year-old, at which point he went on to link up St Mirren, where he was then coached by the club’s head of academy David Longwell.
Reports this week have linked McLean with a return to Rangers in the January transfer window, and Longwell believes the midfielder’s progress, and the Ibrox club’s fresh interest in him, highlights the mistake they made in originally letting him go.
Discussing McLean’s response to his departure from Ibrox, Longwell was quoted by The Daily Record as saying: “Some players take a knock when they are released by the Old Firm and can fall out of the game. I think Kenny just got on with it and said it is what it is.
“We signed him when he was released by Rangers, and I guess if you look back now it’s been a mistake on their part, because he hadn’t developed physically yet. When he was brought to us we were more focussing on bringing in technically good players.”
While McLean did help Norwich win the Championship title in 2019, going on to play for them in the Premier League the following season, it seems Longwell is also slightly surprised the midfielder has not played at a higher level so far in his career.
Assessing the quality that the now-28-year-old possess, Longwell added: “I think he probably could have gone to England before he did, maybe before he moved to Aberdeen.
“I’m really surprised nobody picked him up before Norwich, and even when he first got in the Scotland squad people were questioning it. He has kind of gone under the radar.
“It just shows you they were wrong. I think he could still be playing in the Premier League quite comfortably, but it’s great to see how well he has been progressing.”
It does seem as though Longwell has something of a point here.
McLean has been a solid, consistent, performer for much of his career, and he has certainly become an important figure for Norwich, and indeed Scotland.
As a result, you feel there may be some regret around Rangers that they did not keep him around for longer to benefit from that, both on the pitch and with the transfer fee they could have received for him.
With that in mind, it is probably no surprise to see that the Scottish giants are now apparently keen to try and bring the midfielder back to Ibrox.