Even though Rangers have completed the signing of former Bournemouth wide man Marc Pugh on a one-year deal, it’s still possible that the Hoops could sign Ipswich playmaker Alan Judge before the closure of the August transfer window. Judge, who made it known to Ipswich boss Paul Lambert that he’d like the chance to talk terms with Rangers, has seen two offers rejected by Ipswich owner Marcus Evans.
Evans has previous history when it comes to retaining Town’s top talent, having spurned Leicester City’s advances for David McGoldrick when a £7m bid came calling in 2014. More recently, Bartosz Bialkowski was the subject of a £3.5m bid from Birmingham City for his services after being in the Polish national squad at the 2018 World Cup. The two bids from QPR for Judge were in the region of £250,000 and £450,000 respectively. Considering that Judge is a Republic of Ireland international, it’s understandable that Ipswich found those valuations far too low. The cost of replacing Judge like-for-like in League One would far outweigh those fees.
Loftus Road: An ideal switch for Judge – personally and professionally
However, it remains to be seen whether Ipswich boss Paul Lambert will be content with having a player on his hands that might not be 100% committed to the cause. It’s well-documented that Judge’s family base is in west London, so a switch to Loftus Road would have made perfect sense for the Irishman from a logistical point of view. From a professional point of view, it would also have enabled Judge to continue playing Championship football.
Eyebrows were raised when Judge agreed a new two-year contract with Ipswich just a few weeks before the end of last season, when it was almost certain that the Suffolk side would be relegated. In the eyes of the Ipswich supporters, it was a statement from Judge that he was committed to being the centrepiece of Town’s bid to gain promotion back to the second tier at the first attempt. Certainly, most pre-season football tipsters expect Ipswich to be challenging for an immediate return to the Championship, due largely to some savvy signings such as last year’s League Two top scorer, James Norwood from Tranmere.
So, with the transfer deadline closing in for Championship teams, it remains to be seen whether Judge and his agent will do anything they can to force a move. Should Judge make an official transfer request, it would certainly leave a bad taste in the mouth among Ipswich supporters. Town were, after all, the club that allowed Judge to regain his form and fitness after struggling to get game time at former employers Brentford. On the flip side, football is a very short career and Judge will fear not playing Championship football again if he and Ipswich fail to bounce back at the end of 2019/20.
Becoming an Ipswich outcast would do Judge no favours at all
Of course, should Judge throw his toys out of the pram and demand a move publicly – and a deal still doesn’t transpire – the 30-year-old would be left in something of a career limbo. This scenario could see him as an outcast at the training ground, and also have a negative impact on his international career. Bear in mind that Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has already reassured Judge that playing in League One would be no barrier to his inclusion in the squad and it makes a promotion push with Ipswich a little more attractive than a possible survival battle with QPR.
It’s well-documented that Rangers don’t have a very big transfer kitty for boss, Mark Warburton to play with. His latest capture of target man Jordan Hugill will almost certainly have come at the cost of a loan fee. So, unless Judge and his agent could create such unrest that a £500,000 deal would become necessary for Ipswich and Marcus Evans to accept, it seems that the ship has sailed in terms of a reuniting of Warburton and Judge – a duo that enjoyed such success together at Griffin Park.