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If February’s 3-0 thumping at the hands of arch rivals Celtic was the night when Rangers’ Premiership dream died, then it had serious and more long-term repercussions for Borna Barisic too.  

The damage was already done before Rangers’ Croatia international switched off in the 44th minute, allowing Liel Abada to sneak in and turn a steep hill into an unassailable mountain. But this only added fuel to an increasingly familiar narrative. That the time has come for Rangers to move on from one of Steven Gerrard’s Invincibles.

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To make matters worse, Barisic was to commit an almost-identical blunder as the Gers dropped yet more points against their Old Firm neighbours on March 2nd. A 1-1 draw that all-but gift-wrapped the Premiership title in green-and-white ribbons. 

Is Borna Barisic finished as Rangers target Josh Tymon?

Now, Barisic has never been the most diligent of defenders. His qualities in the final third, under Steven Gerrard, were such that those faults were often offset by his playmaking and set-piece strengths. But Barisic’s tally of goals and assists have dipped dramatically; From a combined 19 in 2022/23 to a measly three in 2021/22. 

If Calvin Bassey, Rangers’ Young Player of the Year, had not established himself as a centre-half of such quality by the time they boarded that flight to Seville, Barisic probably would have been watching May’s Europa League final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt from the bench. 

According to Football Scotland, Barisic wants to stay and put right the wrongs of last term. Whether he is given the chance to do just that remains to be seen. There is no room for sentiment, particularly if Rangers want to stop a rejuvenated Celtic from ushering in a new era of green-clad dominance. And replacing Barisic with a younger model would prove that Van Bronckhorst, Ross Wilson have the authority and the mettle to make tough decisions when the chips are down. 

The Sun claims that Josh Tymon, Stoke City’s £5 million-rated left-back, is a target this summer. Tellingly, Tymon is not viewed as a replacement for the much-admired Bassey but for Barisic instead.

The former England U20 international – who trained alongside arguably football’s best left-back in Andy Robertson at Hull – produced three goals and four assists for an underwhelming Stoke side last season. And, at 23, he offers energy, athleticism and flexibility more familiar with Bassey than his ageing Ibrox team-mate. 

“We played him as an eight against Watford, and he competed really well. He was superb on the ball too,” Stoke boss Michael O’Neill says of Tymon, hailing the left-back’s ability to step into midfield when required. 

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“He is just growing in stature with every game that we play and that is great to see because he has worked really hard. 

“There is no secret in the fact that Josh has had a difficult time of it for long periods since signing for the club a few years ago. But he has shown great perseverance and a good mentality, and he shows really good quality in the way that he plays the game too. 

“He is growing all the time.” 

You don’t have to look far to realise the benefits of fresh blood. Celtic made some big decisions last summer, selling Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie – three load-bearing pillars in the kingdom that Brendan Rodgers built. The Hoops were rewarded for their courage with a place back on the throne.

Now, it’s Rangers’ turn to be ruthless. 

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

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