Bruno Alves believes he will add to his Europe-wide collection of league title winners’ medals in Scotland after becoming Pedro Caixinha’s first recruit as Rangers manager. The Portuguese international defender, a member of his country’s Euro 2016-winning squad last summer, has signed a two-year contract with the Ibrox club. Rangers have agreed an undisclosed nominal fee with Italian side Cagliari, who released Alves from the final year of his contract with them.
The 35-year-old has played for Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Fenerbahce, winning the domestic title in Portugal, Russia and Turkey during his spells with those clubs. Alves joins a Rangers squad which finished a massive 39 points behind six-in-a-row Scottish champions Celtic this season but is confident he can help compatriot Caixinha’s bid to lead the Govan club to the summit of the Premiership. “I want to be a champion again,” said Alves. “This is one of the best feelings that I have in my career and the last time I was a champion at a club was in Fenerbahce. I want to have this feeling again.
“I think I come here for the right reasons and I think that I can bring this back to the club. I have this feeling and this desire to win and I think to move here will bring this back to me and to my career. At almost all the clubs I have played for I win, and I expect to win here for the fans and for the club. I think I can do this here.” Alves has not previously worked under Caixinha but expressed his enthusiasm at the prospect of being part of the 46-year-old’s rebuilding of the Rangers squad. “I know him and I know about the work he did in Portugal and also some players that he coached before,” Alves told Rangers TV.
“I’m happy to be coached by him. I think he has the quality and he has the ideas to make this club successful again. “I think it was for the project, for the future, what he wants to bring here [ that I signed for Rangers]. He was so important for me to join the team and I think he’s capable and able to win. “This kind of person can bring a lot to the club and can make the difference. I think Caixinha has the right mentality to bring back the victories and all that everybody wants.”
Alves’ choice of career move was also influenced by his agent, former Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes, who offered him a glowing endorsement of life in Glasgow.
“They [Mendes and Caixinha] have just good things to say about the club, the city and the fans,” added Alves. “This is also one of the reasons that made me come here. The way the people live the football and the way people like the club was one of the reasons I joined such an amazing club.” Alves visited Ibrox in 2005 as part of the Porto squad who played Rangers in the group stage of the Champions League that season. “For me it was a very good experience and this also made me come here, to receive the affection and the support of the fans,” he said. “All the people that come here, they will never forget about what they see and what they experienced. It’s a fantastic environment.”
Caixinha last night expressed his delight at the capture of Alves and predicted he will improve the mentality of his team. “In my opinion all teams need to be built and organised from the back and Bruno is a very talented and experienced player,” said Caixinha. “He is also really mature and a leader with a strong character, so I’m very happy that he has signed a two-year deal with us at the beginning of this new project and this new cycle we want to start with Rangers.
“I’m also very happy of course that he is my first signing. What is important is that he is a winner with a winning mentality and that is something we all want, to put the club on a winning track again. “Bruno will be a leader in the dressing room and he will demand a lot from himself and others in the squad, both on the pitch and in our training sessions. The players we are trying to bring to Rangers, we want them to have that character, that experience and that maturity, but also that winning mentality. Bruno will definitely be one player who is going to help with that.”
After completing his move to Rangers, Alves returned to Portugal last night as he prepares to join the Portugal squad for their friendly against Cyprus on Saturday and then their World Cup qualifier against Latvia on 9 June. Capped 89 times for his country, it is not yet confirmed whether Alves will remain with the squad for the Confederations Cup tournament in Russia from 17 June to 2 July. If he does, then he will miss Rangers’ opening Europa League qualifying tie on 29 June. Alves is the first confirmed signing in what Caixinha hopes will be a busy and productive transfer window.
Mexican international midfielder Carlos Pena is expected to be the next arrival with the 27-year-old’s club Chivas Guadalajara informing local sources he is on the way to Rangers. Caixinha is also keen on another Mexican international, striker Eduardo Herrera, while Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Jack is poised to move to Ibrox following the imminent expiry of his contract at Pittodrie.