Former Rangers defender Alan Hutton expects the club’s manager Steven Gerrard to make it a priority to tie down Borna Barisic in the January transfer window.
The Croatian left-back has been a target for Serie A side Roma, as reported by the Sunday Post, with The Scottish Sun subsequently claiming that the ‘Gers have opened contract talks with the 27-year-old.
Hutton believes that Rangers should prioritise handing Barisic a new deal and says he hasn’t been surprised to hear of Roma’s interest in the defender. He told Football Insider: “It doesn’t surprise me, I’m pretty sure they would have watched him in the European games and he’s really thrived at that level.
“He’s went from strength to strength really. He looks a real talent, Gerrard and Rangers know that so they’re going to try and tie him down to a longer deal, that’s a priority, but if a decent size bid comes in, then I’m pretty sure Rangers would have to think about it. (It’s) Massive, he brings so much to the team at a pivotal time in the league. They’d either have to have someone in the wings or a plan B if you like.”
Hutton’s views on the Barisic situation are quite understandable given how effective the Croatian has been for Rangers this season. Ahead of tonight’s Scottish Cup clash against Stranraer, he had set up 13 goals in the current campaign, the most of anyone in Gerrard’s squad, including two assists in the 2-1 derby win over Celtic at the end of December. Four of his assists in 2019/20 have come in the Europa League, making him the joint-top assists provider in the competition so far (as per WhoScored) and testifying to Hutton’s remarks about him catching the eye at European level.
It isn’t just in terms of his attacking threat that the 27-year-old has been a key player, either. The left-back has also performed his defensive duties commendably, with match averages of 1.8 successful tackles and 1.8 interceptions. Only three Rangers players have won more tackles per game, while Ryan Jack is the only man in the squad with more interceptions per game than Barisic (as per WhoScored).
Hutton also correctly draws upon the “pivotal time in the league”, with Rangers having a very realistic chance of ending their nine-year Premiership drought. Last month’s win at Celtic put them within two points of the leaders and with a game in hand, meaning that their title fate is in their own hands. However, the ‘Gers face a hectic run of league fixtures over the next month, with seven Premiership matches in 25 days between now and mid-February.
With two weeks still to go in the January transfer window, keeping hold of Barisic in the face of interest from Roma should indeed be one of Gerrard’s priorities, as Hutton has suggested.
Rangers fans, do you agree with Hutton’s views that a new contract for Barisic should be a priority this month? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!
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