Lots of football clubs try to lay claim to operating the best football academies in the world but Glasgow Rangers are already ahead of the game when it comes to developing top talents of their own.
Both Billy Gilmour and Kai Kennedy have broken through the academy ranks in recent years, whilst Steven Gerrard’s side arguably have the perfect James Tavernier heir with Nathan Patterson waiting in the wings.
Patterson, who wears the number 16 shirt for the Gers, has become the designated backup option for the club captain in the right-back position.
The 19-year-old made his competitive debut for the Light Blues in the Scottish Cup as Gerrard’s side cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over Stanraer at Ibrox in January, and thanked the academy for preparing him for life in the first team.
“It has been a long journey but a very enjoyable one and I’m grateful to all the academy staff who have helped me along the way. Every coach I worked with had different methods of working and that has been great to experience too. I learned so much during my time at the academy. It has given me so much confidence and now I need to keep working hard and kick on,” Patterson told the club’s official website earlier this year.
Whilst he has found his chances limited so far, he received praise from Gerrard after he made his first appearance for the club in the Scottish Cup. The Rangers manager told Rangers TV he was “really pleased” with him: “I thought he was very positive, he done everything we’ve asked of him and everything we’ve been working on,” whilst he admitted he has a “bright future” in an interview with The Scotsman.
And the skipper himself has said that he has a big future at the Ibrox outfit, telling Rangers TV: “I’m delighted for Nathan, he’s a great lad to have in the changing room. He’s like a sponge, he takes everything in and gets his head down and works hard really hard.
“I believe he does have a big future at Rangers and a big future in football. As long as he keeps working hard, as he is now, he’ll have a very good future.”
The fact that Patterson is already held in high regard by the Rangers hierarchy despite his young age arguably speaks volumes.
The talented teenager, who favours his right foot, has made two appearances in all competitions so far, whilst he has averaged one tackle and one clearance per game in the Scottish Premiership, as per SofaScore. To put that into context, Tavernier is averaging the same amount of clearances per game, via SofaScore.
The club captain attracted interest from West Ham in the summer but having a ready-made homegrown replacement within their ranks should soften the blow if he does end up leaving the Ibrox outfit in the near future.
With that being said, Patterson still has plenty of time left to continue his development as a player, so there shouldn’t be any rush.
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