NILE Ranger says he is a ‘changed man’, but he is still on the way out of Newcastle United this summer – with Barnsley, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday all waiting to hear the Magpies’ valuation of the fallen striker.
Ranger claims he is a reformed character after a successful loan spell with the Owls and after scoring the goal that clinched promotion for the South Yorkshire giants he revealed a T-shirt claiming he had “changed”. United have kept a watching brief on Ranger while he has been at Hillsborough, but they are still intent on selling the forward this summer – a full 12 months after he was originally informed he had no future at St James’ Park.
It is a measure of how far Ranger has fallen that the only clubs that are seriously interested – despite his undoubted ability – are those of the three managers who have worked with him. Barnsley boss Keith Hill wants him back at Oakwell and has enquired about him, while Dave Jones is also understood to be keen.
But United will have to lower their asking price and Ranger will have to temper his wage demands to make any possible deal happen. Newcastle wanted at least £1million for him last summer but will now have to accept nearer £250,000.
One interested spectator at
Hillsborough was Birmingham boss Chris Hughton, who has maintained a consistent interest in Ranger’s progress since he left the Newcastle United hot seat.
St Andrew’s would be one escape route for Ranger, but Hughton’s possible move to West Brom provides a potential path back to the Premier League for a player with undoubted ability but too many complications off-the-field.
Baggies technical director Dan Ashworth is another who believes there is untapped potential in Ranger, and there is understood to have been an informal enquiry from the Hawthorns about Ranger last summer. It was not followed up with anything concrete.
Ranger gave a rare interview to local press in South Yorkshire in which he appeared to open the door for a permanent move.
Quizzed on his future, he said: “I don’t know (what is going to happen). I’ve got four years left at Newcastle.
“Anything can happen. Things can change.
“We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve enjoyed it here. It’s experience. It’s been a good spell for me.”
Although he still has a court case hanging over him this summer, Ranger has enjoyed two trouble-free loan spells this season and has avoided aggravation in South Yorkshire. He is understood to have impressed with his hard work in training and played a big part in closing out promotion with the Hillsborough club.
He insists that he is – belatedly – learning from his past errors. “I’ve got into a bit of trouble before,” he said. “I think I’m growing up. People make mistakes. There have been times when I’ve thought about what I’ve done – you grow up and learn from it. I’m doing that.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in the area where I’m from, and been influenced by the wrong crowd. I’m going down the right path now and trying to make my family proud.
“I’ve done things off the field that were silly and stupid.
“The message on the T-shirt was to show people that’s a thing of the past.”
United need numbers to bolster their squad for next year’s European campaign and were linked with left-back Aly Cissokho in the French media yesterday. The Journal understands no contact has been made regarding the Lyon full-back.
Meanwhile, Yohan Cabaye has expressed his joy at Hatem Ben Arfa’s selection for the French squad.
“I’m delighted for him – he deserves it,” he said.
“I can confirm he’s a changed man. I have lived with him every day for a year and what I had read about him, the opposite is true. Hatem is pleasant to live with.”
Newcastle defender Shane Ferguson was sent off for a professional foul as Northern Ireland lost 1-0 in Macedonia in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier yesterday.