Glasgow Rangers were defeated 1-0 by German outfit Hertha Berlin in a mid-season friendly over the weekend as their stay in La Manga ended in disappointment.
Of course, it was a chance for the players to build up their match fitness after two weeks without a game, but the performance was underwhelming to say the least.
Philippe Clement stated that he deliberately worked the players harder in the build-up to the clash in order to see them playing with “really heavy legs” but they couldn’t pull off a win.
They return to domestic action this Saturday in the Scottish Cup and an improved performance could set the tone for the next few months ahead.
Before then, however, the Belgian will be aiming to bring in another player during the January transfer window, with a few new names recently linked with a move.
Rangers’ search for a left-back
While Clement needs to improve a few areas of his senior squad, it is the left-back area which is proving to be rather problematic at the moment.
Ridvan Yilmaz appears to be on his way out of Ibrox this month, but the Gers have recently rejected a loan-to-buy offer from Galatasaray for the young fullback.
Add to that Borna Barisic’s contract situation – he has entered into the final few months of his current deal – and it is evident that the 49-year-old coach needs to sign at least one left-sided defender this month.
Dutchman Gijs Smal has been linked with a move to Scotland, while Josh Doig was even mentioned as a potential player Clement wanted to sign this month, although this looks like it won’t happen now.
Journalist Alan Nixon has given a recent update on their chase for a new defender, saying: “Rangers chase Pring”, which is in reference to Bristol City full-back Cameron Pring.
The defender is currently under contract until 2026 and this suggests that City are under no pressure to move on one of their finest players this month, but could Clement make a concrete offer in the next few days?
The Englishman can also operate at centre-back and this versatility will be of huge importance to Clement as he aims to strengthen his squad.
No Dessers & £2.5m target included in Rangers’ dream starting XI after January
Rangers will be hoping to make another two or three signings this month
Dinamo Zagreb are showing interest in bringing Barisic back to his homeland amid rumours they will offer him a pre-contract deal, and it is beginning to look like the next few months will be his last in Glasgow.
Pring could be a more than able replacement for the Croatian, especially judging by his displays this term.
What Borna Barisic offers Rangers
Since joining the Light Blues in the summer of 2018 for a transfer fee in the region of £2m, it is fair to say that the club have gotten their money’s worth out of the defender.
Across the previous five and a half years, the 31-year-old has made 224 appearances for the Premiership outfit, and it has been his attacking qualities which have shone brightest during his stint with the Gers.
Indeed, over these 224 games, Barisic has registered 62 goal contributions – nine goals and 53 assists – which works out as a goal involvement every 3.6 matches, an impressive stat for a defender.
This season, Barisic currently ranks fourth for assists (two) in the top flight and second for key passes per game (2.2), yet he only ranks seventh for interceptions per game (0.9) and ranks second for possession lost per game (17), which showcases exactly where his strengths lie.
Looking to the future, Clement will be looking to bring in a player who can not only push forward as well as Barisic but be an improvement defensively.
Could Pring be the ideal candidate to take over the reign of the Croatian gem?
How Cameron Pring compares to Borna Barisic
For starters, the Englishman is six years younger than Barisic, meaning the Gers will get much longer service out of him should he make the move north of the border this month.
For the Robins this term, Pring currently ranks second among the squad for assists in the Championship (two), along with ranking fourth for key passes per game (0.8) and second for successful dribbles per game (one), demonstrating his attacking qualities in the second tier.
More importantly, however, is his defensive performances. Pring not only ranks second in the squad for tackles per game (2.2), but he also ranks second for interceptions per game (1.4), while ranking first for possession lost per game (21.2).
Like Barisic, Pring clearly gets up and down the left side of the field often, which means he is at more risk of losing possession, and it is clear that the 25-year-old offers a solid defensive ability to go with his desire to push into the final third.
These statistics certainly suggest he would fit into the starting XI fairly well, being able to take over Barisic’s responsibilities with ease, especially considering he has outperformed him on various metrics.
Writer Kai Watson – founder of the informative and insightful Rangers Journal – lauded Pring when analysing the defender on X, saying:
“The first thing to note about Pring is that he’s an absolute unit. 6’1, very strong and powerful. The unusual thing about this link, compared to the other left backs, is that he excels in the defensive areas of the game. He’s not the chance creator the likes of Barisic and Tavernier are as the usual full back options.”
The 6 foot 1 brute looks like he has all the necessary requirements to fill the slot which could soon be vacated by Barisic and, while he might not offer such large attacking contributions, his defensive acumen will more than make up for this.
Barisic vs Pring
Domestic Statistics this season
Accurate passes per game
Key passes per game
Big chances created
Tackles per game
Total duels won per game
It remains to be seen just how much City value their defender amid the recent links to Rangers, and it could be interesting to see just how much the former Club Brugge coach is willing to pay to strengthen a key area of the squad.
Will he make a move this month? Or perhaps wait until the summer, when he has more time? There are far too many questions at the current moment in time and the supporters will have to place their trust in the manager to do what is right for the team.