Why Rangers should hold on to academy starlet Kai Kennedy amidst interest
According to Daily Record, Rangers currently face a battle in their efforts to hold on to teenage academy prospect Kai Kennedy, who has caught the eye with his rapid development in the youth ranks at Ibrox.
The 17-year-old has attracted interest from reigning Premier League champions Man City while Bavarian giants Bayern Munich have also been mentioned among his growing list of admirers (h/t Daily Record).
Italian giants AS Roma have previously been in contact over a move for Kennedy and are still believed to be keen on securing the services of the highly-rated winger, who has a contract at Ibrox until 2021 (h/t Daily Record).
As per the report, the Gers are desperate to secure the teenager’s future with a new long-term deal beyond 2021. With negotiations over fresh terms yet to reach a positive conclusion, Kennedy might be nearing an early exit from his homeland.
The 17-year-old diminutive attacker burst on to the scene with a string of impressive displays during Rangers’ triumphant Alkass Cup campaign back in February earlier in the year and was also instrumental in Gers’ Youth Cup success against Old Firm rivals Celtic.
Kennedy has kicked on from where he had signed off in the previous season, featuring prominently in Rangers’ Scottish Challenge Cup campaign this term while also making his presence felt in the UEFA Youth League.
The highly-rated Ibrox prospect, who has already made his mark for Scotland at the U19 level, has been included by senior manager Steven Gerrard in first-team training this season.
Kennedy was included in the first-team squad prior to Rangers’ 3-1 victory over Hamilton back in November, although he failed to make the cut to the final 18-man squad.
Kennedy isn’t the only Rangers starlet being monitored closely by other clubs. Leon King, 15, who recently turned down a new deal to extend his stay at Ibrox, is also on the radar of Premier League giants Man City and Chelsea (h/t Daily Record).
Preserving the academy gems should be a top priority for the Ibrox giants as they look to push on for greater heights under Gerrard. The Gers could be left red-faced if Kennedy goes on to fulfil his potential at some other club.
That the 17-year-old has been included in first-team training this season is a clear indication of the fact that he could go on to have a big future at Ibrox.
Rangers have put a lot of emphasis on their youth recruitment drive behind the scenes in recent times and losing Kennedy, who is right up there with the best emerging talents across the nation, could prove to be detrimental.
The Gers lost academy wonder kid Billy Gilmour to Chelsea a couple of years ago while Liam Morrison rejected a deal at Celtic to complete a move to Bayern Munich this past summer.
Hence, both the Old Firm giants have been at the receiving end of raids on their academy from some of the continental giants over the past few years.
Rangers certainly cannot afford to lose Kai Kennedy, given that he is already ahead of his development schedule and knocking on the first-team door at the tender age of 17.
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All in all, Rangers holding on to their academy starlet amidst widespread interest would be a massive statement of intent.