Glasgow Rangers had a busy summer transfer window as Ross Wilson oversaw a number of departures and arrivals at Ibrox ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
He bolstered Gio van Bronckhorst’s side by acquiring John Souttar, Malik Tillman, Ridvan Yilmaz, Rabbi Matondo, Tom Lawrence, Antonio Colak and Ben Davies.
However, the Light Blues chief also sanctioned the departures of Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey, and Joe Aribo, with the latter two leaving in big-money moves.
The Nigerian’s exit was a huge blow for the Gers as he was pivotal to van Bronckhorst’s team throughout the 2021/22 season. He racked up a whopping 57 appearances in all competitions last term and chipped in with nine goals and ten assists whilst playing in a number 10 role or out wide.
Now, hypothetically speaking, just imagine if the club had Walter Smith’s Paul Gascoigne to replace the English-born gem this summer. Timing is everything in football and the mercurial playmaker would have been perfect for van Bronckhorst had he come through in the modern era.
The former Tottenham man, who Stuart Pearce once described as the “crackerjack of British football”, signed for the Light Blues from Lazio for a reported fee of £4.3m in the summer of 1995 and enjoyed a fantastic time in Glasgow.
He scored 39 goals in 103 matches in all competitions for the club across his three years at Ibrox prior to joining Middlesbrough. Unfortunately, assist data was not as expansive as it is today and his two Champions League assists are the only ones recorded, with his chance creation numbers being unavailable for his 74 outings in the Premiership.
His goalscoring record does, however, show that he offered a huge goal threat from a midfield position, much like Aribo did last season for the Gers.
Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, and Dino Zoff have all dubbed him a “genius” in the past for his exploits on the pitch and this illustrates the magic that he was able to produce in his playing days, as he was able to wow some of his fellow professionals.
His style was described as ‘combative’ and ‘robust’ and this suggests that he would have been perfect for van Bronckhorst’s progressive, passing, style of play. The Dutchman wants his team to pass the ball quickly and go at teams, which requires both physical dominance and quality in possession. Indeed, Gazza seemingly had both.
Now, imagine what the Englishman would have been like in the modern game if he had come through the system in recent years and found his way to Rangers under van Bronckhorst’s management. He certainly would have filled the void left behind by Aribo.