As Rangers play out a 2-2 draw in the Ibrox leg of their Champions League Playoff against PSV Eindhoven, there is some conversation surrounding talismanic winger Ryan Kent.

Whilst Rangers fans have their own views, chattering voices from the eastend have this obsession with talking down the player amid lazy comparisons to Celtic pair Jota and Liel Abada.

The most expensive player in the Rangers squad – having joined for £7m from Liverpool in 2019 – so much of the pressure of these big nights fall on the 25-year-old’s shoulders.

A monumental figure for the club in the Europa League run last season, whilst Kent doesn’t always score or assist he occupies defenders and he has been taking ankles around Europe for the last four years.

It’s a huge testament to Kent’s ability that it’s between himself and James Tavernier for which player was the most important in that run to Seville.

But the time has come for Rangers to get more from the winger when it comes to goals and assists and this is the step the tireless wide man needs to take if both Rangers and Kent are to progress.

Football analysis is a numbers game and there is a focus on Kent’s lack of prowess in front of goal in recent seasons and whilst undeniably justified, it somewhat does the winger a disservice.

Glasgow Rangers v PSV Eindhoven - UEFA Champions League Play-Off First Leg
Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Kent is a player who drives Rangers forward and attracts enemy attention; someone who often has two players marking him but who keeps going to the well, time and again, regardless of what happens in the match.

But as a disappointing Ryan Kent flatters to deceive against PSV Eindhoven, the pressure is mounting on the player to deliver for us in the second leg.

Spotlight on Ryan Kent ahead of Rangers PSV second leg

The club’s detractors, in perhaps something which is symbolic of the trauma inflicted by the Englishman over the years, are desperate to cut Ryan Kent down and there is noise gathering.

Rangers fans would do well to ignore much of this and remember Ryan Kent’s contribution over the last few seasons but for the winger’s own development he needs to produce a higher output to go to the next level.

Lazy and indulgent comparisons with Celtic pair Jota and Liel Abada are nothing more than incendiary commentary which originates fundamentally in the scar tissue the winger has inflicted on their support.

It’s not just mouthy Celtic fans either; these notions pierce the Scottish football subconscious via Twitter and message boards and journalists think they’re being smart by echoing the point.

I couldn’t have been the only one to turn off the BBC Scottish Football podcast as soon as rugby enthusiast Tom English started on an indulgent, smarting post-PSV match rant about the winger thinking he was being clever.

Deriding someone who guided Rangers to a Europa League Final by comparing them to two albeit talented players, using goals against Ross County and Kilmarnock as the evidence, is genuinely embarrassing and cannot be taken seriously.

That’s fine; these people are going to talk – even with a lack of self-awareness – and Rangers need to just focus on what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

Celtic v Rangers - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

But that doesn’t mean Rangers fans are under any illusions that Kent needs to deliver more than just tireless wing performances and there is no better opportunity for Ryan to silence his critics than in the Champions League trip to PSV.

Kenty has done it away from home in the past – see Braga in 19/20 and Red Star Belgrade last season – and the stage is set for him to hopefully break Dutch hearts next week and present a Smith & Wesson to his critics in the process.

Let’s just hope they don’t phone the police this time.

Read more about why one struggling Premier League club will be praying Rangers can overcome PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League Playoff.

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