James Tavernier has been linked with moves to Aston Villa, Spain and Italy already this summer but Steven Gerrard must resist any and all offers for his captain.
It’s no shock to see that the 27-year-old has interested clubs across Europe as the right-back was on fire for Rangers as he eventually finished the season on 20 assists and 17 goals in 57 appearances for The Gers last season, truly an incredible return for most players let alone a right back. It is true that those numbers are largely padded with penalties but the cliche is true that ‘someone has to score them’ and Tavernier certainly does.
Not only is Tavernier someone who excels himself with an almost unbelievable goal return but he has become a leader of men in a side that has lacked just that in the past. Tavernier is the second-longest serving first-team player at Rangers- narrowly missing out on top spot having been signed a few weeks after back-up keeper Wes Foderingham– and despite there being more experienced players in the squad he really stepped up as a captain last year.
Having arrived in the last year Allan McGregor, Jermain Defoe and Scott Arfield are all players who could- given their long, storied careers- expect to be the main voice on the pitch and in the dressing room yet this additional competition is something Tavernier has taken in his stride, improving on the pitch and acting as a calming presence off the field too.
He can be suspect defensively at times but the goals he provides far outweigh the ones that the club concede as a result of the former Wigan man being caught out of position, a common criticism of the Rangers captain that many have moved to debunk.
Moving away from what he’s done on the pitch the 27-year-old is maturing off the pitch, take the way he handled the entire situation at Easter Road last season for example. An idiot ran on to the pitch and confronted the Rangers captain- Tavernier would’ve been within his rights to have a go at the Hibs ‘fan’- yet he remained restrained knowing full well his actions could incite crowd trouble, which is ridiculous given he was far from the aggravator in the situation. His response after the game to condemn the actions of not just the Hibs support but of his club and those right across Scotland had an err of authority about and not just sour grapes at being the misfortunate footballer at the centre of an unwanted storm.
Tavernier is blossoming into a leader on and off the pitch making him irreplaceable for Gerrard, even if a massive fee were to come in for the Englishman.