This could be the season in which Rangers finally break their duck in the Premiership. The Gers overcame Celtic 2-1 in the Old Firm Derby at the end of 2019 to close the gap on the Hoops. They now have a game in hand and winning it will take them to the top of the table. If it does happen, Borna Barisic would have a key role to play in it.
He is just one of those players who, for outsiders, may not get as much recognition as the likes of Jermaine Defoe, Ryan Kent or the mercurial Alfredo Morelos. And he isn’t meant to take that much recognition either. After all, left-backs aren’t the goalscorers. A lot of the credit they deserve goes under-the-radar.
But Barisic has been unlike any other average left-back. He provides thrust from the left side of the pitch and contributes to goals for Steven Gerrard’s men. In the Premiership, he has made 15 appearances for the club so far. He has come up with a tally of two goals and as many as seven assists- something that sets him apart from others in his position. Both of the club’s goals against the Hoops at the end of 2019 were Barisic assists.
In the club’s march to the Round of 32 of the Europa League, Barisic has come up with an impressive tally of four assists. Two of his assists have come against Dutch giants Feyenoord, with one coming against Young Boys and Porto each.
This indeed has been the Croatian’s best season at Ibrox. He arrived at the club in the summer of 2018 from NK Osijek for a fee of £2.2 million, having already become a regular for the Croatian national team in the left-back position. As things stand, he has made 12 first-team appearances for the World Cup finalists of 2018. That is a fair reflection of the player in question.
For the club last season, he made only 15 first-team appearances and got three assists. In all competitions, he made only 27 appearances- a tally he will easily go past this season. He did sustain a calf injury in the middle of the season and it kept him out for about seven games. Andy Halliday had been an option for the club in his position, along with Lee Wallace.
But Barisic’s freshness and thrust down the left has made him a regular option in that position this season. Gerrard’s trust has been a key factor in that. The Liverpool legend once spoke in high praise of his left-back recently.
He told reporters: “I think he’s been a lot more consistent this season. I think he’s shown everyone the reason why he is the number one left-back for Croatia. I think he was a player that we always knew had the talent and the ability. It was about him putting it together on a regular basis.
“I think he had settling-in issues and it took him time to win the dressing room and the supporters over, but at the moment he’s in a fantastic place.”
That pretty much says a lot of how Barisic has improved from last season. In the past year, he has donned key roles for club and country for that very reason. And as the season wears on for Rangers, Barisic will continue to chip in with goals and assists.
No one would have imagined that he will don such a key role for the club. And it will only get better for him, his club and his country.