James Tavernier joined Rangers from Wigan in 2015 for a reported fee of just £225,000 and has gone on to enjoy a sublime career in Scotland to date.
The right-back began his career in England with Newcastle and spent time with Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan, amongst others, before finally settling down and finding a home at Ibrox.
Players experience peaks and troughs throughout their careers and Tavernier was no exception. His market value on Transfermarkt rose from £360k in 2015 to £5.4m in February 2020, steadily climbing over the five years in between as he became a regular at Rangers.
In the 2019/20 campaign, Tavernier played 10 games in the Europa League for Rangers and was only able to provide one assist, with zero goals, from right-back. He was also dribbled past once per game, whilst only making 0.5 interceptions per match, and lost 50% of his duels. This suggests that he was not strong enough to dominate opposition players, whilst he also gave the ball away 240 times in those 10 matches, which may have contributed to his value dropping to £4.35m that season.
His form in the competition improved in the following season. He played seven times in the 2020/21 Europa League and provided two goals and one assist. Tavernier won 54% of his duels and made 1.3 interceptions per game, whilst only being dribbled past 0.6 times per match, losing the ball 17.6 times per game instead of 24.
Meanwhile, Tavernier’s Premiership form was outstanding in the 2020/21 campaign. He averaged a sensational SofaScore rating of 7.70 as he managed 12 goals and nine assists from right-back, showcasing the quality he can provide from defence.
Steven Gerrard was able to use his man management skills and coaching to improve Tavernier’s game and get him playing his best football after a difficult period. It could have been easy for the head coach to discard the defender after that rough patch in 2020 and sign a replacement in the summer transfer window to take his spot.
Instead, he kept faith in Tavernier and now he is being rewarded by the 29-year-old. As of the start of October, Transfermarkt value him at £7.2m. This is a 33.3% increase from February 2020, showing how Gerrard has been able to help the right-back soar in the space of less than two years, bouncing back quickly from his poor form. It has been a masterclass in management from Gerrard, and hopefully Tavernier will continue to perform on the pitch.