Borna Barisic has signed for Rangers after quick and straightforward negotiations with Osijek. No messing about. Not a single “derisory offer” to be seen. The Osijek Captain has signed a four-year deal with a transfer fee reputed to be between £1.8 million and £2.2 million. I, for one, think this is a bargain. A Croatian international who just missed out on World Cup selection. We paid similar money for Joe Garner.
What does this mean for the future of the Rangers team? There is no doubt that Barisic was one of the most impressive players from either team over the two legs. There are several options that Rangers now have, which can only be a good thing, including a change of shape. This is evolution in its truest form. Only the fittest will survive.
Tavernier Gets Dropped or Sold
The recently appointed Club Captain could make way for Jon Flanagan to move over to his preferred berth at right back. This is highly unlikely. Why would you appoint a new Captain then bring in a replacement for him? This is the least likely of situations if the shape stays the same.
He could also be deemed surplus to requirements, especially if a bid that could reach £5 million or more came in for him. This would represent an increase in value of twenty times more than the original price paid. Again, why sell your Captain and prolific creater when you are building a team? It will take silly money to prise him away.
Tavernier Moves to Midfield
I’m not keen on this option. There are only a few occasions I would maybe think this would be a good idea. Games against Celtic and games where we may need a more defensive structure. I’d counter this by saying Daniel Candeias is as good a defensive winger as you will get. You also don’t compromise your attack with Candeias such is his work rate and effort. I certainly wouldn’t want to see Tavernier play as part of a central midfield three.
Rangers Change Shape for Barisic
Barisic, Flanagan and Tavernier can all play in a variety of positions. Barisic and Flanagan can play in a back three. This also gives you the option of an easy change of shape mid game when you have a full back at centre half. Barisic and Tavernier can also play as wing backs or as wide midfielders if necessary. A change to 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 allows the midfield to still be dominated with the Coulibaly, Jack and Arfield partnership bearing fruits already. It also creates the position behind Alfredo Morelos for Josh Windass or Jamie Murphy to drift around the final third.
A Combination of All the Above
There is no doubt that Steven Gerrard is a pragmatist. Winning is the be all and end all. Walter Smith used the same approach and it worked for him. Full backs playing in midfield were certainly a regular occurrence against “better” opposition. There will, unfortunately, be injuries but this is the level of depth Rangers needs now. I’d argue that Rangers back four and goalkeeper is now, at worst, comparable to Celtic’s but realistically, probably better now.
It looks like there will be subtle rotation depending on the opposition. We have already seen it with Candeias, Windass and Murphy not starting every game like they did last season. Rangers can keep a core/spine of eight players and freshen up in wide areas or attack depending on the fixture list. Something we haven’t been able to do for years. This should make us less predictable and ultimately harder to beat.
The signing of Barisic could prove to be a master stroke, the knock-on effect on other players in the squad could be immeasurable. The increase in competition and raising of standards is only going to be a good thing. It’s going to be intriguing to see Gerrard’s first team sheet with all his players available anyway. I don’t think we’ll see another centre half given Barisic’s versatility.
All aboard as the Stevie G hype train gathers pace, another couple of attacking options and the return of Jordan Rossiter and Graham Dorrans and we’ll start seeing a real difference in the squad on a match day. What a time to be a bear, so glad I was Borna one…….