Entering into the last year of his deal, before preseason it seemed Rangers were set to sell Borna Barisic. Ridvan Yilmaz ended the season as first choice and considering so much was spent on him it seemed he would remain in the team going forward.
Then the Turkish left back got injured, again. This has meant Barisic has played left back every game apart from the cup game against Morton. Ignoring the opening day of the season, where no one was good, he’s been incredibly solid.
He already has three assists and defended really well against a tricky opponent in Johan Bakayako last week. He’s also looked solid defensively in the domestic games, which hasn’t always been the case.
Is this just a case of playing for a new contract? Or has seeing Ridvan be first choice the end of last season gave him the peripheral kick up the back side?
Domestically this season, here are his defensive numbers;
- 2 Clean Sheets
- 0.7 Interceptions Per Game
- 2 Tackles Per Game
- 4 Ball Recoveries Per Game
- 0.3 Dribbled Past Per Game
- 56% Ground Duels Won (3 Per Game)
- 50% Aerial Duels Won (1 Per Game)
These are good, solid defensive numbers for a full back. In particular the 0.3 dribbled past stat is impressive, considering the Croatian was thought of as a weak link in Rangers defence last term.
It’s the eye test though that he passes defensively. Positionally he’s been much more intelligent. He’s been better at reading the game and knowing when to back off and when to close down. Last season Yohan Bakayoko averaged 2 successful dribbles per game and he could only get past Barisic once last week.
It’s not clear what has changed to help this improvement. It’s been clear though, he hasn’t been as much of a weak link in the defence. The criticism of defensive work all seems to be falling on James Tavernier now.
Can Barisic keep up the good level of defence work? I guess we’ll find out in the next two matches. Celtic is a game where he’s famously struggled, particularly against Liel Abada. This Sunday represents a chance for him to show he’s better now. If he can keep up the level of defensive work while having the same attacking output, a new contract may be on the horizon.
The old cliché of ‘a wand of a left foot’ definitely comes into play with Borna Barisic. His crossing and set piece delivery has been key for Rangers over the years.
In six appearances this season he already has three assists. One brilliant cross for Dessers against Servette at Ibrox, another brilliant cross at Ibrox for Danilo to put us 2-0 against Livingston. Then the assist from a corner at the weekend for Kemar Roofe. These were all crucial goals that were assisted by him.
His domestic attacking numbers so far for the season are;
- 2 Assists
- 1 Big Chance Created
- 3.7 Key Passes Per Game
- 41% Cross Accuracy (4 Per Game)
Everyone knows the limitations he has when going forward. He isn’t blessed with pace and doesn’t often take on the opposition full back.
That being said, his delivery probably makes up for that. How have you rated Barisic going forward so far this season?
Borna Barisic turns 31 in November and is in the final year of his deal. Do you think his contract should be extended?
Ridvan can barely remain fit but offers something completely different to the Croatian. With him out the side, would Rangers create as many chances? Michael Beale has brought in players who are threats aerially and at set pieces. Would it now be a disservice to drop Barisic when Ridvan is fit again?
It’s an interesting one for the manager but, as of now, I believe the 30-year-old is first choice. Do you agree? Do you think Ridvan should come straight back in once he’s fit? Or has Barisic done enough to keep his place?
You can read all the pre match press conference points here.
ICYMI you can read about our predicted line-up here.