Former Glasgow Rangers manager Alex McLeish has delivered his assessment on the future of Nikola Katic at Ibrox.
The lowdown: Out of favour
The 25-year-old initially flourished at the Light Blues but missed 57 games following a cruel cruciate ligament rupture midway through the 2019/20 season and was sent to Croatia in order to regain invaluable match fitness.
Having previously been an integral member of Steven Gerrard’s plans, the central defender spent the entirety of the recent campaign at Hajduk Split and played a part in a domestic cup success.
Now, as the one-cap senior international prepares to return to Glasgow, one interested observer has claimed there could be a pivotal role for the defender under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
The latest: ‘Big headache’
The 63-year-old said: “There were times when I looked at Katic and I thought: ‘Yeah, he looks really promising’. I spoke to Richard Gough as well a while back when Katic was playing. Richard quite liked the cut of his jib. He thought he was a decent player.
“It went a wee bit topsy-turvy for him. You’d think, having played at Hadjuk Split’s level, he’s obviously playing with good technical players. Can he come back? Of course. He’s a big lad who can cope with the hurly-burly of Scottish football. If he’s had that experience and he’s over all his injuries, it seems like it’s back to normal. It’s one they’ve already got in the bank. There’s one already kind of ready-made. Is he of the level of Rangers and the levels they’ve reached with European football?
“You would think that there is something there already on the books that could perhaps save them a big headache.”
The verdict: Strength in numbers
After it was confirmed Conor Goldson would remain at the club this week, Katic’s return with regular action under his belt means that the central defensive department is almost completely taken care of entirely for next term.
The combative star, who was described as a ‘warrior’ by Gerrard, earned a stellar 7.01 Sofascore rating across 21 league outings in his homeland, winning a monstrous 6.5 duels and making 3.5 clearances on average per game whilst helping keep seven clean sheets.
Added to Goldson, Filip Helander, Calvin Bassey, James Sands and perhaps Leon Balogun, Van Bronckhorst has a wealth of centre-back options at his disposal with the return of Katic and as such the Teddy Bears can be confident of at least having an assured backline next season.
In other news: GvB rejects bid for Ianis Hagi!
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