Rangers star Calvin Bassey had never kicked a competitive top team ball before joining the ranks of the Ibrox club last summer, but his former Leicester City coach was still “gutted” to see him leave.
The Gers reportedly beat off competition from the likes of West Ham United and Bayer Leverkusen [Express] to sign the powerful full-back last season and Bassey went straight into the squad as Borna Barisic’s back-up.
Since then, the likeable left-back has struck a chord with the Ibrox support and – Covid-19 breaches aside – we’ve seen Calvin develop already into a solid option in the position.
So much so that some fans have even been calling for Bassey, 21, to be given a run in the first team ahead of Croatian full-back Borna Barisic.
Bassey has certainly enjoyed an increased role in the first-team this season – the defender has started eight of Rangers’ 16 matches so far this season – and has even deputised at centre-back.
Speaking to the Athletic about his ability yet unwillingness to play in that position specifically, Steve Beaglehole revealed that he was “gutted” after the player’s £230k exit to Ibrox.
“He was a left-back. He rebelled early on about playing centre-back,” said Beaglehole.
“He didn’t start the season particularly well a couple of years ago and got injured. Luke Thomas had come up (to the under-23s) and was knocking the door down and I said (to Bassey), ‘Listen, he’s staying in there. I’m going to play you at centre-back’.
“He said he didn’t want to so I said he could be on the bench then. He didn’t like it as he’s a strong character but he played centre-back anyway and was outstanding. I said, ‘You played well there’, and he said, ‘Yeah, but I still hate it!’.
Leicester City coach Steve Beaglehole “gutted” to see Calvin Bassey join Rangers
“I remember him playing really, really well against Bayern Munich (in a 2018-19 Premier League International Cup quarter-final, where he came on at half-time.
“He was man of the match but, whatever happened, he ended up fighting and was suspended for three games so that may or may not have cost him his (first-team) debut because his performances were being noticed.
“He came late. Early on in the season, he wasn’t pulling up any trees but then he kicked on and he was phenomenal and that’s when other clubs became interested.
“I was gutted when he left, as he’d probably have been playing in the Europe League for us by now. Brendan (Rodgers) is a brilliant tactician and he starts with a back four but they go into a back three when in possession as they tuck (Luke) Thomas or Ryan Bertrand in, or (Ricardo) Pereira on the other side. Bassey would be ideal in that situation as he can sit in or push on and play wing-back.”
It’s a testament to both Bassey’s versatility and how highly the defender is thought of amongst those who coached him when he was younger.
Now growing into a consummate professional, we’re sure that early murmurs of discontent regarding a centre-back role will be extinguished should the club need Bassey to step up.
Rangers don’t have their problems to seek at centre-back and if the club’s issues continue, then they may well have to call on a youngster to follow in the footsteps of an ex-Liverpool star.