Football is a sport based around constant progression and that means that squads are constantly changing and evolving, and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has overseen plenty of development on the pitch in his time at Ibrox.
He has brought in the likes of Ryan Kent, Ianis Hagi and Connor Goldson to Ibrox from other teams in the transfer market, but buying ready-made stars is not the only way to go about improving your team. Utilising the academy set-up can be a profitable and worthwhile method of acquiring talented players and Gerrard has been able to bring through young defender Nathan Patterson.
The 20-year-old has emerged as a first-team player over the past 18 months and is currently competing for the first-choice right-back spot with captain James Tavernier.
At the start of the year, Transfermarkt valued him at a measly £225k. This was after he made a couple of cameo appearances in the first-half of the 2020/21 campaign, with Gerrard easing him into the first-team picture slowly.
The Gers coach has been able to pull off a masterclass with the full-back by integrating him into the team bit by bit in 2021. Patterson has now made 20 first-team appearances in the Premiership, cup and Europa League to date and recently started and picked up an assist in a crucial 2-1 win over Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. This has also led to him being capped five times by Scotland at international level.
Head of academy Craig Mulholland once heaped praise on the young full-back, saying: “Nathan has been fantastic for us this year.
“Again, we started the project five, six, years ago to get a level of player that we felt could go and compete in the Europa League, could go and compete in Old Firm games.
“And if you go and look at Nathan in the last 16 of the Europa League, if you look at him in the Old Firm game, it’s a great example for all the young players in here of what we’re trying to achieve.”
At the time of writing (18/10/2021), Transfermarkt value Patterson at £1.17m. This is a 420% increase from his initial £225k valuation back in January, perfectly illustrating his meteoric rise over the course of the year whilst working with Gerrard at Ibrox.
Therefore, the ex-Liverpool player and coach has pulled off a masterclass with Patterson. He has turned a talented young player into a serious first-team option and someone who could either earn the club a healthy payday, with Manchester United one of the clubs reportedly interested in the 20-year-old.
It is down to the Scottish international to keep working hard and ensure that he is constantly putting pressure on Tavernier. If he can earn a regular starting position in the team then his development could accelerate with the experience gained from minutes week-in-week-out.
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