Why Rangers' star loanees Amad and Ramsey have struggled despite dream Europa League run

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Amad Aaron Ramsey Rangers Europa League GFXGOAL

When Rangers signed Aaron Ramsey and Amad Diallo in the January transfer window, there was a sense something special might be just around the corner for the club.

Ramsey, a Wales international with over 350 career appearances for Arsenal, arrived on loan from Juventus to much fanfare, while Amad joined up for six months from Manchester United, having been signed by the Old Trafford outfit for an initial £19 million ($25m) from Atalanta a year earlier.

These were statement signings made with the intention of retaining the Scottish Premiership title from Celtic. In that regard, they failed, and yet the Gers stand on the cusp of achieving something even greater in the form of Europa League success.

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Only Eintracht Frankfurt stand between Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side and a first European trophy in 50 years, as well as the first Scottish continental success since Alex Ferguson won the Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen in 1983.

Any Rangers fan who was told this outcome on February 1 might have expected Ramsey and Amad to be at the vanguard of an unlikely charge that has seen the Gers already overcome two formidable Bundesliga opponents - RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund - in the competition.

And yet, this headline pair may well be little more than a footnote in the club’s story this season.

Ramsey, for example, has played a mere 84 minutes of the Europa League campaign. Amad has not appeared at all, an unused substitute in all eight knockout matches.

Amad Diallo Rangers GFX

Indeed, for the young Cote d'Ivoire winger, his spell in Scotland has proven a test of character. Although his career at Ibrox started positively with a goal away at Ross County, the match finished 3-3 and he was subsequently ridiculed on social media for a highlights package of his performance that he posted.

Worse followed a matter of days later, when he was hauled off at half-time as Rangers were run ragged by Celtic in an Old Firm clash.

Amad appeared stunned by the intensity of the fixture and turned in a lacklustre 45 minutes that saw his attitude questioned by the Ibrox club’s support. His redemption process has been a lengthy one, characterised by long periods as a substitute.

Only once the issue of the league title being settled in Celtic’s favour was effectively decided did Amad start to see significant game time again, with Van Bronckhorst’s focus switched to keeping players fresh for Wednesday’s showpiece final in Seville.

Goals against Dundee United and another against Ross County have followed off the bench, as the 19-year-old has gradually won back confidence and the trust of his manager.

Ramsey’s tale, meanwhile, is one all too familiar to the 31-year-old Welshman, who has battled with his body for several years.

Aaron Ramsey Rangers GFX

Injury issues prevented him from integrating immediately, while those same problems have stopped him getting up to the level Arsenal fans know that he is capable of.

While there have been flashes of his on-field potential, notably in the form of an Old Firm goal in a 2-1 home defeat in April, his influence behind the scenes has been hailed.

Ramsey was namechecked, for example, along with established Rangers stars Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Connor Goldson by captain James Tavernier as being on the inside of the Ibrox leadership circle, having played at a higher level than any of his current colleagues.

Of course, it looks improbable that Rangers will retain either Amad or Ramsey. Following the former's difficult stint, it would be no surprise if incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag had different plans for him, while the latter's salary demands are likely to be prohibitive to an Ibrox stay once his loan deal expires.

On a personal basis, neither has experienced the loan spell they might have wished, yet Wednesday night in Seville provides both with a late chance to write their own Rangers legend.

“This game is right up there with the biggest games I’ve played,” Ramsey admitted. “I missed a final with Arsenal and that was tough to take, so to have an opportunity to take part is incredible, and it doesn’t come much bigger than the Europa League final.”

Now approaching the end of his career at the top level, this could be Ramsey’s last chance to win a major trophy, while it opens the door to Amad winning his first.

The two players at very different stages of their careers may have had mixed spells at Rangers, but the highest of highs remains a tantalising possibility at the end of it all.