Glasgow Rangers left-back Borna Barisic stole the show against St. Johnstone on Wednesday night to ensure Steven Gerrard’s side stayed on top of the Scottish Premiership at Christmas.
The Croatia international started the action alongside Connor Goldson, Filip Helander and James Tavernier to form the back four in front of Allan McGregor, with Gerrard feeling the need to ring several changes to the team that came from behind to beat Motherwell, with Joe Aribo replacing Scott Arfield in the midfield.
Barisic has established himself as a first-team regular starter under Gerrard since he first arrived at Ibrox but has found his place in the starting XI under threat after the arrival of Calvin Bassey in the summer.
Gerrard recently admitted as much, as the Ibrox boss realises competition for places has arguably never been higher, with Bassey and Nathan Patterson ready to step into the full-back roles if required.
“The pair of them have started the season really strongly, and it’s interesting to watch Barisic and Tavernier because they have now got competition for places,” he said, as quoted by The Sun. “The way he’s looking in training, I wouldn’t think twice about putting Patterson in to start a game. And Bassey has already proved that he’s capable of stepping in as well.
“Both James and Borna know they have a challenge for their positions, which is good.”
“When Barisic is in the right place from a mental point of view, he’s capable of the kind of high-level performance he gave against Poznan.
“That’s the reason he’s picked as the best left-back in Croatia.
“When he gets into the final third, he’s got incredible quality. His delivery is exceptional.”
But Barisic, who reportedly earns £18,000-a-week, seems to have heeded his warning with his latest display against Callum Davidson’s side, with the defender winning eight out of his nine duels overall (88%) – which is more than any other player from the two teams, as per SofaScore.
Nobody manged more dribbles, either, with the Croatian completing two out of his three dribble attempts successfully, via SofaScore.
Only Tavernier took more touches of the ball, too, with the club captain managing 108 to Barisic’s 95 touches in the full 90′ minutes.
The 28-year-old provided 38 out of 59 passes (64%), while he also made four tackles, two interceptions and three clearances, which shows that he put in a defensive shift to ensure the Gers kept their first clean sheet since the 2-0 win over Lech Poznan in the Europa League.
Once hailed as an “unbelievable” defender by former Rangers full-back Alan Hutton, the timing couldn’t be better for Barisic with Bassey chomping at the bit amid links abroad, as the cards are very much in his hands.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers may have found their next Steven Davis in Ciaran Dickson…