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Rangers are poised to end their hunt for a director of football by appointing Manchester City academy director Mark Allen to the role.
The Ibrox club are also pressing ahead with plans to further strengthen Pedro Caixinha’s first-team squad but have seen two bids rejected for Hearts winger Jamie Walker.
Allen has guided City’s youth set-up since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008. Released by Swindon Town as a young player, the 54-year-old studied for a business and accountancy degree in San Diego. He then worked for companies including entertainment channel MTV before returning to football and rising to prominence at City.
News of his impending appointment emerged in England last night, prompting an Ibrox spokesperson to respond only that ‘Rangers will not comment on speculation’.
However, while the deal is yet to be finalised, Sportsmail understands Allen is the preferred candidate to take up a strategic post that will give him an overview of scouting, sports science and the youth academy.
Developing players for the first-team at City has proven an extremely difficult task given the club’s vast transfer market wealth.
Their age-level sides have regularly shone – losing last season’s FA Youth Cup final to Chelsea – and attracted talent from the UK and overseas.
However, City were last month fined £300,000 by the Premier League and banned from signing academy players for two years after being found guilty of breaching recruitment rules when signing two players.
Speaking in a newspaper interview in April, Allen insisted his tenure had significantly raised standards.
‘When I set out, the technical level wasn’t as good as I thought it should be,’ he said.
‘Over the years we’ve really fixed that. We can comfortably put our team against anybody in Europe or the world and say “we can handle the ball”.
‘I’ve always believed if you’re an eight-year-old Portuguese, Spanish, Italian or British kid you’re the same. It’s what you do with them.’
Rangers first announced plans to hire a director of football after Mark Warburton’s contentious exit in February but were rebuffed by Southampton’s scouting chief Ross Wilson.
The Ibrox club meanwhile will have to up the money on offer for Walker. It’s believed an initial approach earlier this week was followed up by a second offer worth closer to £500,000.
Hearts are thought to be seeking around £1million for the 23-year-old, who has made it clear he will not sign a new deal when his existing contract expires next summer.
Rangers could make a pre-contract approach to land him in January, paying only training compensation, raising the likelihood of further negotiation later this window.
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