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Landing Hearts’ Callum Paterson this summer would be a huge hint as to Rangers’ ambitions this summer, as well as their ability to bring in top talent.
English Championship side Cardiff City are reportedly chasing the attacking right-back and would certainly have the money to tempt him to Wales on a decent wage. Cardiff will no doubt attempt to sell themselves as a club showing Premier League ambitions and this is a big pull for a player like Paterson.
Paterson’s contract at Tynecastle is set to expire this summer. Unless his agent gets particularly greedy, the 22-year-old would naturally represent terrific value for money. His impending availability will obviously put a number of clubs on alert and there may yet be a scramble for the man born in London, but representing Scotland at international level.
Since making his debut for Scotland as recently as May 2016, Paterson has gone on to make 5 appearances to back up his 137 games in Hearts’ first team. His experience is already considerable and so are his exploits. 34 goals from a right-back – or one every four games – is a record that most attackers would be happy with, never mind a full-back.
He has continued right at that level this season with 10 in 25 so far, though he has occasionally played further forward. It’s not that his defensive capabilities are in doubt here. His willingness and ability to get up and down the wing is impressive and he can certainly tackle and block.
Rangers’ first choice right-back for the past few years has been former Newcastle man James Tavernier. His own exploits going forward made him somewhat of a fan favourite. However, his form has not been quite as good since arriving in Scotland. Tav himself would seem to prefer a midfield role, so it remains to be seen whether he stays at Ibrox and convinces Pedro Caixinha to play him in a more advanced position.
Whether Tavernier stays or goes; remains an option at right-back or moves into the midfield, there is no doubting that Paterson would improve Rangers by a few more percent. Taking him from Hearts would move them further clear of their rivals and could even potentially help close the gap on Celtic above them.
He’s an improvement on Tavernier, would add more goals to the team and could arrive for free. So, despite Tavernier’s popularity and ability, it would be folly to suggest Rangers shouldn’t jump all over the chance to bring Paterson in this summer.
Paterson has been missing since December with a knee injury, which would be Rangers’ only concern. But a clean bill of health and a free transfer would be enough to tempt them to make a move.