It’s fair to say Malik Tillman’s loan spell has been a success so far, barring a couple of blips. Those blips though, have given some fans doubt over whether he should be signed permanently or not. As good as he has been, the fact is, those blips are two OF performances, in the first one of the season and in the LC Final. He didn’t turn up in either game and that has cast a shadow of doubt over whether he can perform in the big games when he’s truly needed.
Some things do need to be considered though, this is his first full professional season, first season in a completely new environment and he’s only twenty years old! Let’s start to break down his season in numbers to see if they give any evidence in favour of signing him or letting him go back to Bayern, the basics;
Fifteen goal contributions in thirty-eight games so far, again, for a twenty year old in his first professional season is pretty impressive. He’s a player who can perform well in multiple positions and has the potential to be a game changer.
He is a player that is key to Rangers playing the way Michael Beale wants them to, he chases the ball down, wins it back and progresses it forward. He’s one of the few players Rangers have that is capable of taking on multiple opponents and keeping the ball, as seen by his wonder goal at Fir Park earlier on in the season. This is clearly shown with his number of dribbles Per90 and his progressive runs, the progressive runs show how often he helps take the team further up the pitch and the success % of dribbles is superb. Most would probably think of Ryan Kent as the clubs best dribbler and he averages more than Tillman at 8.98 Per90 but his success rate is lower at 51.8% so this shows the quality that he has when taking on opponents.
Goal scoring wise he has definitely had hot and cold spells, often going stretches of three to four games without a goal but that doesn’t mean he isn’t contributing. He is performing over his xG which is encouraging for a player of his age and the range of goals is really quite spectacular. Think all the way back to August when he scored his first goal for the club with that ridiculous header against USG when he seemed to hang in the air Michael Jordan style. Compare that to the solo goal at Fir Park when he runs past at least five Motherwell defenders before coolly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper into the opposite corner. Then, again at Fir Park, at the weekend he scores an incredible goal by quickly shifting the ball onto his right foot before firing it into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
This array of goals which were of very high quality from all different areas of the pitch, from a twenty year old, highlight the potential he could have going forward. He’s not only impressed going forward though, since Beale has arrived his defensive side of the game has improved and the numbers definitely back that up;
These are numbers a defensive midfielder would be happy with, never mind a forward thinking one. Before January one of his biggest criticisms was a lack of effort on the defensive end but that’s a narrative which has long gone as he has shown he can graft as much getting back as he does going forward.
He’s a player capable of doing it all and that’s why a section of fans have gotten so frustrated at him not turning up for two of the three OF games so far this season, especially the LC final. Before that game, many fans would’ve said he was one of the best players Rangers had currently and there would have been no doubts over spending the money to get him. The magnitude of that game though and what it meant to the club and the fans has left a sour taste in some of their mouths, he wasn’t ready for that game, physically or mentally.
With fan opinion now split, one thing is for sure, Malik Tillman is a player who would make the club money. If the reported fee of somewhere between £5-6m is true then there is no doubt that in a year or two the club could sell him for at least double that. Is he worth the risk?
Spending that kind of money at a time where Rangers require an almost complete overhaul of the playing staff may be out of the question. £5-6m could potentially bring in two or three quality players on similar fees as the club paid for Raskin and Cantwell. So can Rangers afford to spend that much on one player?
Is it short sighted to not consider the potential money he can bring in to the club? Or is the immediate need for an overhaul more important than any future profits, what do you think?