GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST has emerged as a leading candidate to become the next Rangers manager following Steven Gerrard's departure for Aston Villa.

The champions have stepped up the process to replace Gerrard after he completed his move to Villa Park and put pen-to-paper on a contract until the summer of 2024 on Thursday morning.

Ross Wilson, the Rangers sporting director, is overseeing the search for Gerrard's successor and van Bronckhorst is a prominent figure in the thinking at Ibrox as he seeks his next opportunity in management.

The Dutchman is currently out of work after leaving Chinese side Guangzhou R&F in December and is keen to rejoin the club where he spent three years before moving to Arsenal in 2001.

van Bronckhorst emerged as a potential target earlier this week and bookmakers have slashed odds on him replacing Gerrard as Wilson and the Ibrox board look to avoid as much disruption as possible following the Englishman's sudden exit just months after he guided his side to the Premiership title.

Former Rangers midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is also open to a move to Glasgow as he searches for his next position following spells in Serie A with AC Milan and Napoli.

The Italian is one of the names under consideration by Rangers and, like van Bronckhorst, he would be a popular appointment with supporters due to his affinity with the club and standing in the game.

The loss of Gerrard - and backroom staff Gary McAllister, Michael Beale, Tom Culshaw and Jordan Milsom - has come as a significant blow to Rangers on the eve of their Premier Sports Cup semi-final with Hibernian and a crucial run of fixtures in the Premiership and Europa League.

An appointment in the coming days would help ease the concerns of supporters and Rangers are expected to have their new manager in place well ahead of the trip to Hampden next Sunday.

The likes of Derek McIness and Frank Lampard have also been touted for the position but the former Chelsea boss is now on the brink of succeeding Daniel Farke at Norwich as he closes in on a return to the game.