Glasgow Rangers return to competitive action this Saturday as their quest to win a 35th Scottish Cup title gets underway against Dumbarton.
This should be a relatively easy tie to negotiate, and perhaps Philippe Clement will give some fringe players or even an academy gem or two a run out against the League Two side.
What is clear heading into the second half of the season, however, is that the Gers need to add a few more bodies to their first-team squad if they are to fight on both domestic and European fronts over the coming months.
One main area which needs bolstering is at left-back, and the 49-year-old tactician is scouring the market to find someone who could come in and make a difference.
It’s shaping up to be a busy month…
Rangers’ search for a new left-back
The first choice in the left-back position, Borna Barisic, is out of contract come the end of the season and with reported interest from Dinamo Zagreb, he could be close to leaving the Ibrox side in the next few months.
Clement’s other option on the left side of defence, Ridvan Yilmaz, is also attracting attention, and he could move away from the Gers as early as this month if the right deal presents itself.
Indeed, the Light Blues have recently rejected a loan-to-buy deal from Galatasaray, according to Sky Sports (via Glasgow World), as the £3.4m fee is clearly lower than what Clement feels the youngster is worth.
There is still time for him to depart and the need for another option in this area has heightened significantly since the start of the transfer window.
One of the latest names to be linked with a move is Benfica defender David Jurasek, who, according to Football Scotland, is someone that Clement could potentially lure to the club on a loan deal until the end of the season.
A temporary deal could be an ideal way of bringing someone else in without having to spend a lavish sum on a transfer fee, and it could certainly be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Rangers are currently searching for a new left-back this January
Yilmaz has struggled to settle properly at Rangers and aside from a few glimpses of his talent, moving him on might be the best option for the Belgian coach.
Ridvan Yilmaz’s Rangers career in numbers
The Turkish defender cost the club a staggering £5m back in the summer of 2022 and with Giovanni van Bronckhorst looking at building the blocks of a successful, yet youthful team, the signing was seen as an exciting one.
Former sporting director Ross Wilson hailed the youngster, saying: “He’s a talented young player who has been coveted throughout Europe following outstanding performances for Besiktas. We also know how highly regarded he is in the Turkish National Team. This is another exciting young player to join our squad, and we are delighted to bring Ridvan to Rangers.”
Yilmaz missed 29 games in his maiden season in Scotland due to injury, playing just 15 times in all competitions in what was an underwhelming 2022/23 campaign for the club.
Following a solid pre-season, much was expected of the defender, yet Michael Beale left him out of his Europa League squad and during the first half of the season, the 22-year-old started only ten matches.
He did score his first goal for the club against Livingston with a storming solo effort, but these glimpses of his ability clearly haven’t been enough to convince Clement that he is the long-term option at left-back.
With a transfer away from Glasgow looking increasingly likely, could Jurasek make Clement forget all about Yilmaz should he join this month?
How David Jurasek compares to Yilmaz
The Czech Republic international has endured a similar sort of season to Yilmaz, playing only 12 matches across all competitions for Benfica, as he has failed to secure a consistent run of matches.
Despite this, he does currently rank in the top ten among the squad for key passes per game (1.2) and for successful dribbles per game (0.7) in the Portuguese top flight, giving supporters flashes of his attacking ability.
With Benfica reaching an agreement to sign Alvaro Fernandez from Manchester United, this could force Jurasek out of the club and the Gers could be ready to make an offer.
Although fairly low-key this season, the 23-year-old shone for Slavia Prague during the 2022/23 campaign and if he could replicate these performances upon joining Rangers, they would have a solid option to depend on.
Jurasek played a total of 45 games for the Czech side last term, scoring twice and chipping in with 12 assists, and these 14 goal contributions would have ranked him seventh for the Scottish club in 2022/23, demonstrating just how impressive an attacking outlet he can be when on form.
Indeed, for his club side, the defender ranked third for key passes per game in the Czech top flight (1.1) along with ranking sixth for successful dribbles per game (0.5) and fifth for tackles per game (1.5), indicating that he contributed at both ends of the pitch.
The defender was praised for his impressive season in his homeland by Kai Watson, who said when analysing the player for the Rangers Review:
“He’s a modern-day forward thinking full-back that also has a few tricks in his locker. He’s willing to take on and commit defenders while driving forward. He’s definitely a more direct and attacking full back than Borna Barisic and looks more solid on the defensive end.”
High praise indeed, and it looks as though if he can put his spell in Portugal behind him and remain focussed, the Gers could see a player who will possess an attacking threat at one end of the pitch while being reliable at stopping attacks at the other end.
David Jurasek’s domestic statistics
Accurate passes per game
Big chances created
Key passes per game
Tackles made per game
Total duels won per game
It is evident that this is an area which urgently needs bolstering sooner rather than later, even if a loan move for someone like Jurasek is sorted this month.
When the summer transfer window rolls around, Clement will have more time to assess the situation, but at this present moment in time, he should be bringing in the current Benfica defender, even if it is just for a few months.