Malik Tillman, 20, has been in sensational form and has become a fan favourite with his majestic displays in a Rangers shirt. In his first proper season playing senior football, the US international has nine goals and five assists for the Light Blues. Some of the Rangers faithful perhaps lost faith in Tillman before the World Cup break due to his inconsistent performances, but since returning, all that has changed now, and he’s been the Ibrox club’s best player this season. He is thriving under new manager Michael Beale.
The Rangers support has given the midfielder his own song. “Oh, oh, oh, he’s Malik, you know! Give him the ball, and he’ll score.” It’s been sung plenty of times as Tillman has played an instrumental part in some key victories. The Bayern Munich loanee can create something out of nothing. We have seen that earlier this season when he took possession a yard from the opposition half and went past five Motherwell players as though they were invisible to go on and score one of the goals of the season.
Tillman has an incredible amount of potential, and it’s clear how technically gifted he is. Rangers have the option to buy Tillman from the Bundesliga giants for a fee of €5 million, and Beale is keen to make it happen. After Rangers’ impressive 3-0 victory over Hearts, Beale was asked about Tillman’s future at the club and if a deal could be made permanent:
“Yeah. Of course, we can. There’s a fee agreed. Everything is in place. You get the season out of the way, then you sit down and talk to everybody and try to get it done. “If it was my decision and Rangers’ decision, we would have him here for the long term. He’s a player that we like and a boy that’s settled in really well at our club. At 20 years old, he’s got a really exciting future.”
The 20-year-old has begun the month in fine fashion, doubling Rangers’ lead in their 3-0 win against Hearts before opening the scoring in a 2-1 win against Ross County, as well as grabbing the go-ahead goal in a roller-coaster 3-2 victory against Partick Thistle in the cup. Rangers sit nine points behind Celtic and will need the German-born US youth international to continue his strong form as they look to make up ground on their rivals.
Making Tillman a permanent transfer is a no-brainer, according to Rangers legend Barry Ferguson who has been full of praise for the youngster. Speaking on Go Radio, the former Scotland midfielder said: “He’s a game changer, no doubt about it. When games are sticky, and they’re stuffy, he can come up with that bit of magic. “I think he’s improved in each game.
“There was never any danger in his technical side of the game – brilliant feet, he can see a pass, he can score a goal, it was the other side of the game I look at when he loses the ball, and I’ve seen a difference in him over the last four weeks. When he’s lost possession, his first thought is, ‘can I try and get that ball back’ or, ‘can I go and help my teammates get it back?’ The reported fee is around the €5 million mark. For me, I think it’s a no-brainer.”
Tillman says he’s enjoying playing under Beale and how the system suits him more compared to van Bronckhorst’s. After the 2-1 victory over Ross County, where he scored a brilliant diving header, he said: “I think the way we play under the new manager is a bit different, and it suits me more than before. I’m always happy to help the team, obviously. But the most important thing is the team’s success.”
He also spoke about the biggest lesson he’s learned since playing in Scottish football. “I came here having played just a few games of professional football before, and I had to get used to it as well. I can improve a lot. I have improved, but there is still a lot to come, I think. I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned has been about the mentality and physicality of Scottish football.”
Tillman has refused to get drawn into discussions surrounding his future and stated that it’s between Rangers and Bayern Munich and solely wants to focus on his football. He has all the attributes to go on and be a superstar in the game. He can shoot, dribble, pass, header, and tackle – he’s the total package.
Signing a player of Tillman’s calibre on a permanent basis needs to be Rangers’ priority this summer – €5 million euros is a bargain that is too good to resist. Rangers would make a significant profit if they were to sell Tillman in the future. It would be simply unacceptable from the Rangers board if they allow a player like Tillman to slip through their hands.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Alan Harvey – SNS Group