“Best player in the world” – whatever happened to Brandon Barker?

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“Best player in the world” – whatever happened to Brandon Barker?
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 21: Brandon Barker of Rangers is seen during a training session ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group D stage match between Standard Liege and Rangers at Ibrox Stadium on October 21, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Something a little bit different now, and the recent press focus on ex-Rangers winger Brandon Barker, who currently finds himself a free agent at just 27 with a career rather going nowhere.

The ex-Ibrox and Hibs attacker was being discussed as the tormentor of England superstar Trent Alexander-Arnold, who might not be quite the name he was a few years ago himself, but remains a world class talent whose career has been a fraction derailed by injury.

And he named Barker as the toughest opponent of a ‘player who didn’t make it’ criteria.

“I would say Brandon Barker, played for City. I was playing for the Under-21s, first ever time at Anfield, got beat 3-0. He scored two and got an assist. I came off at 60 minutes. Still to this day, he’s the opponent I think that just destroyed me, man. I’ve never had it like that before. At that point, I’m thinking, ‘This kid is going to be the best player in the world’. Because I’d never seen someone move so quickly and sharp, and effectively.”

Barker, when it came to training, was Lionel Messi, Ronaldo and Vinicius Jr all rolled into one.

He was a literal genius at that level.

Andy Halliday went further:

“Brandon Barker. One of the best trainers I have ever seen. I know for a fact if you ask anyone who has played with him at any club – whether it’s Hibs or Preston – they’d all say the same thing. Josh Ginelly when he came to Hearts, had played with him at Preston, and he said the exact same thing. He said: ‘Brandon Barker was the best I’ve ever seen in training’. He was at Man City when he was younger and apparently he was the one coming through at Man City at that time. Honestly, in training he would get the ball off the goalie, dribble by the full team and score. I’m not saying people thought Brandon Barker was s**** but fans would say he’s not good enough but in training…”

But when he took the field in front of fans in senior football, the magic was always gone and he became pressured, mental demands getting to him and his no longer being able to do the things he did by second nature in training.

Moral of the story?

The amount of Rangers youth to sparkle at the youth levels, but then crumble for the seniors is different gravy.

It is one thing being Maradona behind closed doors, in front of small undemanding crowds, quite another being able to do it in front of 50,000 baying fans every other week.

Another one again being able to do it at a high level of expectation and demand, and rather than just impressing a team mate or two or a manager, having to impress thousands of angry fans.

Barker doesn’t have that mental capacity, that ability to take his actual ability onto the senior field of football where performance counts, and a lot of young players from Rangers (and elsewhere) crumble like this.

The number of our youth who looked so good, but just didn’t go to the levels we initially thought.

Kai Kennedy, Alex Lowry, Leon King, and even current winger Ross McCausland never really reached the potential they hinted at in training, in the youths.

Barker is one of many who has all the ability in the world but doesn’t have the ‘cajones’ to do it on the field when it matters.

A shame for the boy really.

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