Legendary Glasgow Rangers manager Walter Smith believes that James Tavernier is one of the best performing full-backs in the world when it comes to goals, let alone the Scottish Premiership, which is precisely why Rangers must keep him at all costs.
The free-scoring full-back has been in impressive form for Steven Gerrard’s side so far this season, having scored 16 goals and supplied 11 assists in 25 appearances in all competitions, via Transfermarkt.
Speaking to The Daily Record, the former Ibrox gaffer was effusive in his praise for the “remarkable” 29-year-old, saying: “James is doing a remarkable job. I think he must be the highest-scoring full-back in the world, never mind Scotland!
“You can tell he’s enjoying being in the team and getting great results for them. Normally you look at a right-back and say to yourself: ‘If he gets up the park and delivers a good cross into the box, then that’s fine’.
“But he’s delivering an incredible number of goals. He’s top scorer in the division. I know he does penalties. But there are loads of boys who have been top scorers as forwards over the years and taken penalties as well.”
He added: “James has settled into playing for Rangers. He came when they were second best to Celtic so it’s great now he’s doing so well.”
Rumours about his future have also been rife, with his former teammate Andy Halliday expressing his concern that Premier League clubs will be closely monitoring his situation.
“Take away his penalties, he has still scored six goals. How can a team not be watching that? Everyone has their price, I think he would wait until the summer,” Halliday said, via Open Goal.
“But if a team sits down and offers double, triple your money – some people are going to get their head turned.”
Tavernier has previously insisted that he wants to stay at Rangers but Ross Wilson simply cannot afford to take any risks.
His goals and assists ratio are pretty incredible for a right-back, to put it mildly, with the Bradford-born beast having already bagged ten goals and seven assists in the Scottish Premiership after he contributed yet again against Ross County at Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon.
Since moving to Scotland, Tavernier has found the back of the net a whopping 62 times, whilst he has also scored twice and supplied three assists in the Europa League, including what now seems like a customary penalty against Standard Liege on Thursday night as the Gers fought back to qualify for the knockout stages for the second season in a row with a game to spare.
Not only is Tavernier a set-piece specialist, with nine from the penalty spot this season so far, he is also a marauding full-back who brings others into play like Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe with his crosses and key passes, working in tandem with his teammates on the right wing.
Once “crucified by his own fans“, he seems to have finally won them over, for the most part at the very least.
With Brighton, Burnley and West Ham United among the interested parties, it goes without saying that he may be tempted by offers from clubs south of the border, as the club captain currently earns wages worth £14,000-per-week, which is less than what his young teammate Ianis Hagi earns.
Therefore, Wilson must rebuff any transfer interest in January, and he could fend off any potential suitors by offering the defender a bumper new deal to bring his wages in line with some of the highest-paid players at the club.