Why a new deal for Nikola Katic is a shrewd piece of business for Rangers
The 23-year-old Croatian had plenty of time remaining on the four-year deal that he had signed while joining Rangers from Slaven Belupo last summer but the Gers have moved quickly to extend his stay, with manager Steven Gerrard rating the centre-back as an indispensable component of his project.
As per the report, Gerrard views Katic as an excellent long-term prospect moving ahead and has also touted him as a potential leader at the back for Rangers in the years to come.
Furthermore, the manager has also showered praises on the Croatian as a tailor-made defender for the physicality of the Scottish Premiership, whilst also mentioning that he still needs a bit more polishing to improve his all-round game in order to evolve into a finished article. (h/t Daily Record)
The 23-year-old, who came through the door at Ibrox from Croatian outfit Slaven Belupo last summer, made a total of 30 appearances for the Gers in all competitions in the previous campaign and has already racked up 11 appearances this term, despite Gerrard opting to rotate his centre-back options.
Rangers recruited the likes of George Edmundson and Filip Helander in the summer to compete with Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic for a place at the heart of the defence following the departure of last season’s loanee Joe Worrall to Nottingham Forest and the release of veteran Gareth McAuley.
To that end, Katic has found himself in and out of the playing eleven, with Gerrard opting to rotate the Croatian and Helander to partner Goldson in central defence.
Nevertheless, the 23-year-old has been a regular face at the back for the Gers and a tally of 41 appearances in all competitions since his arrival last summer is enough evidence to suggest that he is, indeed, rated by the manager.
To put things into perspective, Nikola Katic has more than held his own for the Gers over the past year or so and the news of his new contract is likely to please the fans, who can now look forward to enjoying the fruits of his prime years.
The 1-cap Croatian international is yet to establish himself as an undisputed starter but he is still quite young for a centre-back at 23 and has plenty of time to cut out the rough edges in his game to evolve into a commanding presence at the back.
Standing at 6ft. 4 inches with a powerful frame, Katic has already proven that he has the physicality to make his presence felt in Scottish football and, given his talent and potential, one would expect him to go from strength to strength as he approaches his peak.
With Helander and Edmundson still struggling to live up to the expectations following their move to Ibrox this summer, the door is wide open for Katic to establish himself as an undisputed starter in the coming years and it is imperative to say that Rangers have got a real talent on their hands.
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Suffice to say, the Gers need to keep hold of their top players if they are to push on under Gerrard and oust arch-rivals Celtic from the domestic throne and Katic’s new deal is likely to hand a big boost to the overall squad morale.
All in all, Rangers opting to extend the stay of the centre-back for the foreseeable future is definitely a shrewd piece of business and one that clearly comes as a vote of confidence in his abilities.