Rangers full-back Borna Barisic showed David Moyes what West Ham United are missing with his display against Celtic in the Old Firm Derby on Saturday.
Barisic has been linked with a potential move to the London Stadium in the January transfer window with Moyes on the lookout for a new left-back, having lost Arthur Masuaku for the foreseeable future following knee surgery.
Moyes is loath to overuse Aaron Cresswell in the position and is thought to be after a top-quality option who can provide cover and competition in the role, with Barisic a potential candidate having impressed for the past 18-months.
Barisic has often been instrumental to Rangers’ efforts under Steven Gerrard at Ibrox, where the 28-year-old is believed to be valued in excess of £8m after snubbing interest from Leeds United last summer.
Gerrard lauds the Croatian as an “incredible” talent for his expert crossing abilities that have helped Barisic record 10 assists in 30 games across all competitions so far this season, while finding the back of the net twice with goals in the Scottish Premiership and League Cup.
“When he gets into the final third, he’s got incredible quality. His delivery is exceptional,” Liverpool icon Gerrard said, via quotes by The Sunday Post.
“His numbers for a full-back alongside James [Tavernier] are really, really admirable for that position.”
Barisic was unable to be the usual key man in Gerrard’s plans that Rangers fans have come to expect during Saturday’s Old Firm Derby win over bitter rivals Celtic, though, as the £18,000-per-week full-back rarely ventured far enough up the field to pose a threat in the final third.
Too often during the 1-0 victory Barisic was dragged back chasing Hoops right-back Jeremie Frimpong, but he came close to finding the back of Vasilis Barkas’ goal when his superb free-kick was deflected agonisingly wide of the post.
Barisic wasn’t the usual attacking force that he is for Rangers as he provided just one key pass despite taking a mammoth 80 touches, as he struggled to retain the ball with 19 inaccurate passes from 46 attempts, including eight misplaced long balls and two of four attempted crosses, per SofaScore.
In all, Barisic turned over possession 24 times, while losing five of 10 ground duels, committing three fouls and failing with 50% of his attempted dribbles, but winning all five of his aerial contests.
However, in a tight game, he was very good defensively. He registered a titanic six interceptions, made four clearances and two successful tackles, though being dribbled past once in a challenging afternoon for the 15-cap international.
Moyes would be able to take plenty of positives from Barisic’s defensive efforts against Celtic, but may have hoped to see the Rangers full-back offer far more offensively to justify a West Ham swoop this month.