Robert Molenaar is certain Joey Veerman could handle life in the Glasgow goldfish bowl – but the coach who introduced him to first-team football has advised the Dutch ace not to be lured in by Rangers’ bait.
Former Leeds and Bradford defender Molenaar handed Ibrox target Veerman his professional debut back in 2016 while in charge of Volendam in Holland’s second tier.
The midfield playmaker quickly established himself as one of Dutch football’s brightest stars, winning a move to Eredivisie outfit Heerenveen three years later.
And it is there that his performances have reportedly caught the interest of PSV Eindhoven, Atalanta and Reims, plus Gers boss Steven Gerrard.
But while Molenaar is convinced the cool customer could handle life in the notoriously pressurised Old Firm environment, he is worried Veerman will be swimming against the tide if he moves abroad too soon.
Molenaar, who spent three years at Elland Road before joining the Bantams in 2000, told the PA news agency: “I haven’t spoken to Joey lately, but if he wanted my advice I’d point him towards the big three in Holland instead of going abroad.
“I think that would be a better choice for him to develop.
“You know if you move abroad you will be judged not only on your ability, but also what the fee has been and what you show on the pitch.
“If he stayed in Holland, he would remain in his normal surroundings and I think that would be kinder for him as he looks to make another step up.
“His stress management is remarkable on the field and I think that would also mean he would be capable of enjoying the kind of life you get in Glasgow with a club like Rangers.
“But I think if he were to go to Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord and adapt like he did when he moved to Heerenveen, then there will be even more teams for him to pick from after that.
“That’s my opinion. There’s a lot of space in his development potential, but I think a kinder step would be to stay in Holland and see if he can manage that development.
“At that point, however, he will become more expensive, so I can understand why Rangers would like to get him on board now.”
PSV boss Roger Schmidt ruled his club out of the chase last week after Heerenveen slapped an £8.5million price tag on Veerman’s head.
Gerrard refused to discuss the rumours linking him to a player who has scored nine goals and assisted a further 10 this term when quizzed on Friday.
But Molenaar has no doubt Veerman would rule if he joined Scotland’s newly crowned kings.
“I got Joey when he made the step from the junior team to the seniors,” he said. “What was very remarkable was how quickly he adapted. His ability on the ball also stood out – especially his passing.
“He did have a bit of a label on him that he did everything too much at one pace – but once he got into the first team we soon realised nobody could get near him, even to kick him!
“This was in the Dutch second league and there were a few doubts when he made the step to the Eredivisie.
“But when he went to Heerenveen it was the same, he was still the best player on the pitch and in total control of the game.
“The defensive side of the game is his Achilles heel. He won’t take the ball off the opponent too much because he’s more of a number 10. If a move to Scotland did not work, that would be why.
“But attacking-wise, he would be more than capable of coping with the faster pace in Scotland.
“His stress management is remarkable. I used to say he would do the same playing on the village square in Volendam as he would in De Kuip in Rotterdam against Feyenoord. Stress doesn’t seem to affect him. He has no fear to hold him down.”