Rangers midfield options are about to be bolstered with the news that José Cifuentes is finally set to join next week per Andrés Ponce;
This roughly translates to ‘Tomorrow the visa issue is planned and next week he will travel to Scotland to join Rangers’. Fans will be delighted to finally get him in the door after what seems like months of waiting. This signing leaves Rangers midfield packed with options, who would be the three you would start?
This is a nice issue to have considering, most of the time, the team picked itself last season. This article will look at my preferred choice for the midfield three and the options from the bench.
So, assuming Cifuentes is fit, my midfield three for the game against Kilmarnock would be;
CDM (6) – Nico Raskin
CM (8) – José Cifuentes
CM (8) – Todd Cantwell
This midfield lets Raskin play deep and get plenty of the ball while Cifuentes and Cantwell would pull a pit wider to open up the pitch and create space. Here’s why these three are my choices.
I’d have Raskin the deepest in the midfield because of his tenacity and passing ability. In preseason he has shown his ability to play first time passes round the corner into space and it’s been incredibly effective in Rangers getting up the pitch quickly. His passing is excellent and always positive, he loves to fire passes through the lines to start attacks.
His positivity at the base is key in turning defence into attack. He’s also incredibly capable of bringing the ball out himself. He often likes to drive through the heart of the midfield and has no problems gliding passed opposition players. Below is some clips from the Newcastle game and how effective he was;
This shows what he is capable of. He’s always available for the ball, he doesn’t hold on to the ball for too long and he drags the team up the pitch. If he can take the performance in that game through the whole season, he’ll be crucial for the team. It will also mean he’ll have eyes on him from the big leagues.
His ambition is to play for Chelsea and I fully believe he’s capable of ending up in one of the top 5 leagues. Already a Belgian U21 international, if he hits the heights expected of him, he could be Rangers most expensive sale ever.
I recently wrote an article on what the 24-year-old Ecuador international would add to Rangers midfield. So this section will be brief.
I believe he can be an incredible number 8 for the club. He’s energetic, hard working and has quality on the ball. He thrives in nicking the ball from opponents and then driving forward with the ball at his feet. He’ll add an energy that was missing when players like Lundstram or Kamara played in that position.
He does everything well and will create a lot of chances for the forwards this season. He averaged also 2 key passes per game for LAFC this season and if his team mates were more clinical, would definitely have more than 3 assists. I, for one, can’t wait to see him play for Rangers, very excited for this one!
How much really needs to be said about last seasons golden boy? There was serious chatter among fans that he should’ve been nominated for player of the year for his performances since his January arrival. For me, he’s a much more well rounded player than I ever thought he would be. His off the ball work truly surprised me, he loves to get stuck in and gives his all for the jersey and that’s why the fans adore him.
Going forward he glides passed opponents with ease and opens up spaces all over the pitch. Similar to Raskin, he makes good decisions on the ball and knows when to hold it and when to pass it off. Below shows his performance against Celtic at Ibrox and he was key in that victory;
This demonstrates all of his strengths. The ridiculous piece of skill on the touchline to get through two opponents before being fouled. His alertness and technical ability for his goal. The tenacity in the tackle which led to Sakala getting through for his goal.
Cantwell was touted for the top as a youngster and he’s showing that ability here at Rangers. He keeps the ball moving and is always looking to be positive. He ended the season with 6G/4A in 16 SPFL appearances, imagine the numbers he could produce over a full season?
This midfield three really excites me, would yours be similar? Let’s look at the other options available currently.
Other Midfield Options
Let’s start with Kieran Dowell, the former Norwich man has really impressed me in preseason. Like Cantwell when he arrived, I’ve been very impressed with his off the ball work, he’s definitely not the luxury player I had him pegged for. His strengths are his ability on the ball and he has a wonderful left foot but that hasn’t come together yet. There is a chance he could be a starter but I feel he’s better as an option from the bench.
Ryan Jack and John Lundstram both looked leggy in their preseason appearances so far. When they were on the pitch, both players really slowed the game down and stifled the creativity going forward. I’m a massive fan of Ryan Jack and believe he will come good during the season, John Lundstram however? I’m not so sure. His performance against Olympiakos was comically bad and with one year left on his deal, moving him on could be the best option.
Tom Lawrence and Ianis Hagi are two other interesting options. Lawrence was very impressive before his unfortunate injury last season so it will be interesting to see where Beale sees his best position. Hagi has had a couple of impressive appearances in preseason but can he continue into the real action? He’s played deeper as an 8 this summer so does Beale see him as an option there? Both players are very talented and capable of contributing but Hagi is also one who has been linked with a move away.
The last option I’ll discuss is Bailey Rice. The 16-year-old may not feature much this season but every time he’s been in and around the first team he’s shown how capable he is. The composure on the ball he possesses at such a young age is incredible and I believe he has massive potential. The most since Barry Ferguson perhaps?
With the addition of Cifuentes and the returns to fitness of Hagi and Lawrence, I’m encouraged by the state of the midfield. Glen Kamara wasn’t included as he seems certain to exit the club soon. How are you feeling about Rangers midfield?
Do you feel better about it than you did last season? Who would your starting three be for the Kilmarnock game?