Rangers signed midfielder Nicolas Raskin from Belgium side Standard Liège for a fee of £1.75 million in the January transfer window. Since his arrival at Ibrox, the Belgium U-21 international has settled in well and had an impressive start to his career in Scotland.
Raskin is a combative midfielder, something that the Rangers midfield has been missing for quite some time. He loves to break up the play and get forward with the ball, which suits Michael Beale’s style of play perfectly. The 22-year-old’s approach to the game has won the Rangers faithful over, as it’s clear he gives it all on the pitch and isn’t shy about wanting the ball as much as possible.
The midfielder’s time at Standard Liège ended poorly when he was banned from training with the first team by manager Ronny Delia after he refused to sign a new contract at the club. Raskin posted on social media stating: “When respect is no longer served, you have to know how to leave the table. Very disappointed, but not surprised.”
Speaking to Belgian outlet RTBF, the former Standard Liège player admitted he regrets criticising former Celtic boss Ronny Delia on social media: “I had just learned that I could no longer train with the group. “It hurt me because I had given a lot to deserve to be there. I am very frank and honest, and I reacted hotly when I should not have. It was not interpreted the way I wanted. These are my emotions that spoke, but it was not especially the thing to do.”
Despite the bitter exit from Standard Liège, Raskin admits he would like to return to the club one day. He added: “My goal is to return to Standard to finish what I started. “I would like to reach, at least, the milestone of 100 matches played with them. I would like to go back there later, at the end of my career: I already have that in mind, and I want to.”
Former Rangers and Belgian international Thomas Buffel compared Raskin to Rangers legend Barry Ferguson and believes there is strong similarities between the pair. Speaking with the Daily Record, he said: “If I had to pick one player who Nico reminds me of, it would be Barry Ferguson. It’s difficult to say this because I know what Barry means to Rangers, and I don’t want to put too much pressure on Nico. But as a midfielder, he has the same football qualities as Barry.
“There’s the determination and the physical qualities too, the desire to put up the sleeves and say, ‘Come on, let’s fight for the win’. And he can go forward and score goals, which Barry could do also. If you want him to play as a sitting No.6, he can do that, but there’s a lot more to his game if you allow Nico the freedom. Rangers are getting a very exciting player, and I’m sure he will do well.”
Buffel explained that Raskin is a player who will ask questions and want reasons for why he would be playing a certain role: “Nico is a player who has many positive attributes. He has good technical abilities. If you give him the ball, he will protect it well.”
“If you play him as a No.8, he can infiltrate the final third. OK, one v one dribbling may not be his main thing, but he can do that. He has a good shot on him too. But this is a young player who can be physical and aggressive when needed. He’s not the tallest, but he can handle himself, which will be important in Scottish football.
“The only thing I’d say he needs to work on having watched him progress from the Belgian Under-18s to the 21s and then with Standard, is that he needs to concentrate on carrying out the task asked of him by the coach and not doing too much of what he thinks he can do. Sometimes, he maybe wants to do too much. I don’t know Michael Beale personally or what his coaching style is but all I’d say is that Nico is a player who likes to know why he’s being asked to do a certain thing.
“Sometimes coaches prefer it if young players listen and learn, but as far as I see it, players who ask questions are players who want to move forward and become winners. That is Nico. He’s always looking to progress.”
Raskin has the potential to be something special at Ibrox, and he will no doubt be chomping at the bit to make the 2023/2024 campaign a season where he can make a significant impact in Scotland.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / photonews