While Aaron Ramsey won’t be available tonight, with the Welsh star’s addition alongside that of Ivory Coast gem Amad Diallo, Rangers just got a colossal upgrade in terms of quality and ambition.
But just what IS Rangers’ strongest-possible XI now?
We are ignoring injuries and players not technically available at present to conjure a theoretical best XI. And let me tell you, it’s one of the best setups we can remember at Ibrox, even including the best of Walter’s days.
In goal, obviously it’s still McGregor. He might have a few errors in him these days, but he still makes breathtaking saves and shows up for the big matches. Robby McCrorie will hope to succeed him but for now, Greegsy remains between the sticks.
Tavernier is the best RB in Scotland bar none, there’s no competition. Central defence is where the controversy begins. We personally wouldn’t use Connor Goldson, at all, but that’s moot, because Gio still will.
Ibrox Noise considers our best three centre backs to be Niko Katic (he’s still ours), Filip Helander and Leon Balogun.
Katic’s form in late 2019 was absolutely stunning, with the ex-boss admitting he was keeping new signing Helander out of the team. That’s how good he can be. Helander is just a top class stopper and we all know how good he is. Balogun is getting on a bit but has been badly missed with his injury – none of our CBs have his pace.
In truth, we’re not going to argue – any two of those four would be fitting. Souttar of course isn’t here yet.
At LB it’s either Barisic or Bassey. Barisic has adapted well to Gio’s system, while Bassey is a seriously impressive LB these days. We can’t go wrong with either of them.
We move into midfield, and things get more complicated.
In the defensive shape we have Glen Kamara, Steven Davis, Ryan Jack, John Lundstram and James Sands. Scott Arfield has been slotting in there too, albeit more advanced.
But now we have Aaron Ramsey who can play anywhere in midfield, from defensive, to wing, to central, to advanced.
So then we go into the advanced midfield – Hagi is out for the season so isn’t in the picture any more, while we have Ryan Kent, Joe Aribo, Ramsey, Arfield, Sakala, Wright, Diallo, Lowry, and Roofe. The depth here is scary.
Up top it’s obviously Morelos, Sakala, Roofe and… er… Itten?
So we come to pick an XI. There’s no right or wrong answer here.
McGregor; Tavernier, Balogun, Helander, Bassey; Jack, Ramsey; Diallo, Aribo, Kent; Morelos.
That we literally couldn’t fit in Zukowski, Goldson, Katic (given he’s not with us right now), Souttar (not here yet) Barisic, Kamara, Arfield, Davis, Sands, Lundstram, Roofe, Lowry, Sakala, Roofe or Itten shows just what the quality of the squad now is.
You’ll all look at the team and reject half of the selections, but then, this is the point. We easily have about 10 combinations that are our ‘best’, and that 13 players are on the bench and a few aren’t even at our disposal shows the depth we have.
We just need to cut out the silly defensive errors creeping in lately and 56 is there for the taking.