Steven Gerrard has another great midfield debate on his hands but this time it involves his own players and not Frank Lampard.
With Rangers adding seven players already in this window Gerrard looks to have a built a squad full of his own players that he can trust. One dilemma that will be brought about by this added quality is who gets the nod in Rangers’ midfield three. Gerrard can call upon a whole of host of talented midfielders but it looks as if it’s down five players to really compete for the three berths, with two having nailed down the more defensive roles already thanks to forming a good partnership in the tail end of last season: Glen Kamara and Ryan Jack. That leaves the trio of Greg Docherty, Scott Arfield and new signing Joe Aribo to compete for the more advanced role in the middle of the park in Gerrard’s preferred 4-3-3.
Docherty had a highly profitable season at Shrewsbury in League One last season: scoring 10 times, assisting a further 11 and picking up the club’s player of the season award after his 50 appearances for the club. One thing the Rangers midfield did miss last season was goals and if Docherty could sustain is Shrewsbury contribution at Rangers he could add what was sorely lacking last season. It’s yet to be seen if Gerrard will throw the youngster straight into the midfield given he deemed him surplus to requirements for last season but the 22-year-old certainly stands a better chance this summer than he did last of making an impact under Gerrard.
Arfield fluctuated between central midfield and playing on the left of the attack in his 42 games last season. He did score 12 times, assisting on a further seven occasions, but the majority of his goal-scoring contributions came when pushed into the front three. Arfield is a highly talented player but given his form further up the park it’s more than likely that we’ll see the Canada international in that position rather than competing for the prized third central midfield role in the coming months.
Aribo arrives from Charlton in a deal that was quite a coup for Gerrard having fended off reported interest from big clubs across Europe. Aribo played at the same level as Docherty last season and given he’s a new signing who takes in a decent amount of wages it would be no surprise to see Aribo starting in the midfield role in Gibraltar next week. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of representing Rangers as it will be different from what he’s been used to at Charlton.
It’s a nice problem to have for Gerrard having three options like Docherty, Aribo and Arfield in his squad but he’ll want to figure which of the three he can trust the most if he’s wanting to make a success of his second season at Ibrox.