According to STV Sport, Scottish giants Rangers have come back in with an improved bid for young Millwall centre-back Jake Cooper.

Rangers have already seen one bid for the 23-year-old centre-half knocked back last week, but Steven Gerrard has outlined the towering 6’6 defender as one of his main transfer targets this summer and has subsequently returned with an improved offer.

It is believed that Neil Harris has no plans to part company with the young defender this summer, with the first bid of £3 million rejected last week.

Cooper signed for the Lions permanently last summer after a successful loan spell at the club during their promotion-winning 2016/17 season, but cost the club under £1 million after then-Reading manager Jaap Stam deemed Cooper surplus to requirements.

The young defender enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season with the Royals during the 2015/16 campaign, making 24 appearances, scoring twice and forming an effective centre-back partnership with club captain Paul McShane.

However, the arrival of Manchester United legend Jaap Stam saw the end of Cooper’s Reading career, with the Dutchman fixated on a fluid, possession-based game which hardly suited the 6’6 defender, who was deemed incapable of fitting the system.

Ultimately the decision to sell Cooper came back to bite Stam, who was dismissed part-way through last season after defensive frailties saw the Royals flirt with the relegation for large swathes of the season.

With experienced defender Bruno Alves departing to join Italian outfit Parma, Steven Gerrard clearly fancies Jake Cooper as the long-term replacement for Alves at Ibrox, but Neil Harris will do everything in his path to keep hold of a key pillar of last season’s 3rd best defence in the Championship.

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Sports journalist and editor. Southend-based Reading FC fan. Can sometimes catch me editing for In Bed With Maradona. Find me on Twitter @HarrySmithRFC

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