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Celtic complete loan swoop for AC Milan defender

Diego Laxalt has joined the Scottish champions, while Steven Gerrard believes capture of Bongani Zungu can take Rangers to next level.

CELTIC HAVE completed a deadline day loan swoop for AC Milan and Uruguay left-back Diego Laxalt.

The 27-year-old flew into Glasgow to complete a season-long deal less than three hours before Scotland’s midnight transfer deadline.

The former Genoa player has won 24 caps for Uruguay and has been brought in to provide competition for Greg Taylor.

Celtic have sold 20-year-old forward Jack Aitchison to Barnsley. The club’s youngest goalscorer, who netted against Motherwell at the age of 16, will be immediately loaned to an English League Two club but has signed a three-year deal with the Yorkshire side.

Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard believes Rangers are now ready to compete for honours at home and abroad after finally completing a deal for South African star Bongani Zungu.

The Ibrox boss has been desperate to get his hands on another midfielder but was made to wait until just two hours before Monday’s midnight deadline to complete a season-long loan swoop for the Amiens ace.

Gers also have an option to make the 27-year-old’s capture permanent next summer.

Zungu has 29 Bafana Bafana caps having shone at last year’s African Cup of Nations and Gerrard reckons the powerhouse midfielder can now help his team smash their way to trophy contention.

The Ibrox boss – who has made eight signings this summer – said: “Bongani fits the profile of player that adds further strength and depth to our midfield. We made it clear that we wanted a player who will enhance our squad and starting XI. We believe Bongani does this.

“We wanted a dominant midfielder with the right profile who can enhance the team and compliment other players we have. We have monitored this situation all summer and now feel it’s the right time.

“Our board have been very supportive throughout the window with seven new signings. We believe we have a squad in place that will compete in all competitions, both domestically and in Europe. This is a pleasing transfer for us and we look forward to Bongani joining up with the squad.”

Now Liverpool fan Zungu is looking forward to hooking up boyhood hero Gerrard.

“I have studied the squad and feel I can come in and bring my attributes to help the team improve,” he said. “The chance to play for such a big club especially in European competitions is very exciting for me.

“I can’t wait to fly to Scotland and meet my new team mates. I know that I will settle in Glasgow and am looking forward to getting started as soon as possible.

“I really want the fans to be proud of my performances and will always give 100 per cent for my new team.

“Rangers is a global club and I know there are already many supporters across Africa. I am looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd and audiences across the world.”

Zungu’s move sees a long-running transfer saga finally come to fruition.

Gers had been linked with the 27-year-old midfielder for much of the summer, with the Light Blues initially quoted a £4million fee.

But in the end sporting director Ross Wilson was able to negotiate a deal that sees the club effectively pay nothing for the first 12 months.

Wilson added: “Bongani is a player whose situation we have monitored throughout the window. We are excited to have him join Rangers.

“Following a difficult and prolonged period of lockdown in South Africa, it would have been hard for him to have joined us at an earlier stage of the window.

“However, we have kept an open and positive dialogue with Bongani and Amiens, and the structure of this agreement works well for all parties.

“The financial impact of coronavirus is being felt by all clubs in a market that has been like no other that I’ve ever experienced. We are pleased with the work we have done during the window across the squad and despite the clear challenges brought by the virus, our board have been keen to continue to invest in the development of the squad and the club.”

Press Association
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