Rangers are on course to claim their first Scottish title in a decade after a blistering start, with 16 points the difference between Steven Gerrard’s side and their city rivals going into Christmas.
If that were to be the case, then come autumn it could mean Champions League football at Ibrox for the first time since 2012. That could bring huge responsibility and opportunity, especially as Celtic have failed to make the group stages three years in a row. If Gerrard delivers the title, then he has a wonderful chance to create a legacy that even nine domestic titles in a row cannot match – that of establishing Scottish football as a European force once more.
What better time to do it than the summer of Euro 2020 and Scotland’s first appearance in a national tournament this millennium? Also, what could be more fitting than an Italian born defender from Leicester City being the potential key to that success?
Calvin Bassey is a name not known widely outside of Glasgow. He spent five years at Leicester City and was just 16 years old when he first experienced what a successful club feels like. The Foxes lifted the Premier League in 2016, an achievement which shocked football. Gala Bingo call Leicester City’s win one of the top winning moments anywhere in the world in 2016, such was the surprise that they pipped Spurs and Manchester City at the final hurdle.
Bassey may have experienced that atmosphere, but he did not make a single appearance during his tenure at The King Power Stadium, eventually coming to Ibrox this summer. His capture was a coup of sorts, with people behind the scenes delighted with the business. Indeed, not long after capturing the defender, Rangers boss Gerrard said; “He’s a strong and dynamic athlete who is very much the modern-day full-back. He will develop further, and we are excited to have made another strong addition to our group.
“He’s left-footed, physically powerful and enjoys driving forward and is certainly equipped to thrive in the combative nature of Scottish football. We continue to look ahead to next season and Calvin is another positive addition as we continue to build the strength and depth of our squad.”
So, how is he the secret weapon going forward for Gerrard? Well, the 20-year-old now has four Europa League appearances to his name, including an impressive display in Belgium as Standard Liege were despatched 2-0. He had to come on after 43 minutes for the injured Borna Barisic and he did not look out of place.
One thing Rangers will need if they do make the Champions League is money to strengthen the squad, and that is where Bassey comes in. He is proving to be a capable and exciting full-back, maybe even a possible replacement for the Croatian Barisic. He has been valued at £20m, according to the Daily Record and has previously been linked with moves to Roma, AC Milan and Leeds United. The Gers have been reluctant to sell, but if Bassey continues to impress then he might be capable of seizing the full-back role as his own and helping bring £20m into the club as a result.
He does still have a bit to go though, as he was exposed in the 3-2 League Cup defeat at St Mirren and may benefit from a break over Christmas. But if his attitude is right and he is coached well, there is no reason why the youngster cannot be a vital cog in Ranger’s quest to impose themselves not only on the domestic title scene but also on the European stage.