We’ve mentioned this a couple of times, but it’s time to dedicate an entire piece to the recent emergence of Calvin Bassey and the implications for Borna Barisic.
Barisic had a tough time of it at Ibrox during his first season. No pre-season and the maiden campaign reflected that plus his injury troubles. Fans couldn’t have driven him to the airport faster.
But that goal in Paisley last season ignited him and within a month he was playing the world class football we knew he could. He was quickly becoming a £20M+ asset.
He carried that over to this season too, starting strongly and showing the same form, but unfortunately a bad knock on international duty has restored his injury issues, and he’s missing quite a lot or being withdrawn early on fitness grounds.
Enter Calvin Bassey. We described his signing as not for squad, as going by Stevie’s language this was a player being groomed for first-team use. He wasn’t going into the dev squad, he was to be part of the main squad and above and there was a strong implication he might even be a Barisic replacement, on grounds of the Croat potentially being sold.
Instead, Bassey is playing more and more because Barisic is not fully fit and nursing a lot of injury blight at the moment. He was a major doubt for Sunday and has to be considered a bit of a doubt for Thursday too.
And yet, getting to the point of this piece, while Bassey doesn’t have the crossing of Barisic, and won’t get the assists the ex-Osijek man does, and probably won’t get forward with the same aggression or frequency, his game is making a lot of fans prefer him over the traditional first choice.
He’s strong, he’s fast, he defends well (albeit still has a little to learn) and he doesn’t get hurt easily.
He isn’t as dynamic as Barisic, but he is more robust.
Do we prefer him? That’s a little hysterical. Barisic is a world class left back who turns out as first pick for the world cup finalists. Let’s not get OTT that a former Leicester Academy graduate is suddenly a better choice.
But it does give us that quality depth we definitely needed for that position. We now know Bassey can handle himself at both SPL and EL level, and we will be no weaker for picking him over Barisic.
It’s just a different game that we’ll have if we use him instead – and in truth, he did absolutely wonderfully the past two matches and any tactical shifts in Belgium from his 43rd minute introduction were subtle and sure didn’t hurt our gameplan.
No, Bassey is a fantastic backup and indeed while some fans have gone a little nuts in installing him as first pick, either way, what a fine choice Steven Gerrard now has.