CHRISTIAN NERLINGER, the former general manager of Bayern Munich, has emerged as a leading candidate for a similar position at Rangers.
Nerlinger, who played for Rangers for three injury-hit seasons from 2001, is believed to have had talks with representatives of the Ibrox club and further discussions are planned.
Sources in Germany last night insisted that the former international midfielder was keen on the role. The post of a "chief football operations officer" was identified by Graham Wallace, Rangers' chief executive, in his 120-day review published in April.
Nerlinger performed such a role for Bayern Munich for three years from 2009 with the club winning a domestic double and finishing runners-up twice in the Champions League during his tenure.
Nerlinger, too, worked closely with Louis van Gaal, the manager of the Netherlands who will take over at Manchester United next season. The German and the Dutchman enjoyed a mutual respect and a commitment to bringing through young players but Nerlinger left after a major disagreement with Uli Hoeness, the then club president.
The 41-year-old won two titles as a player with Bayern Munich before moving on to Borussia Dortmund. His subsequent spells at Rangers and Kaiserslautern were ruined by injury with the midfielder playing only 25 matches for the Ibrox club . Nerlinger also has a degree in business studies.
He would be a dramatic appointment for a role that is seen by Wallace as crucial to the direction of the club, both in the short and long term.
The chief executive said in his review: "There is no proper talent identification and scouting operation in place for professional players and at the time when investment in playing talent needed to focus on identifying value acquisitions, the club dismantled its scouting and recruitment network. Key football support areas such as medical, sports science and performance analysis are under-resourced and not equipped to the level required."
He said that the key to strengthening the club was "the creation of the new position of chief football operations officer, with specific responsibility for developing best in class football operations support. This new role will support the football manager and the board and will concentrate initially on developing player talent identification, scouting and recruitment capability".
Nerlinger, who is known as a strong character, has distinct views on football development, and is not adverse to confrontation.
It is not known what input, if any, Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, will have into the recruitment of a chief football operations manager. But McCoist, who is on holiday in the USA, said after the publication of the review that he would be open to the idea of such a post only if he continued to have full control over player recruitment and team selection.
Asked then if he would be happy for any new director of football to sign players, McCoist said: "I'm not sure that's a good idea. If the manager tells him which talent to identify then that's a good idea. That's the best way to operate. There's no point in someone identifying talent that the football club or team don't want or don't need."