Why Rangers should avoid a move for Bahlul Mustafazada
Born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Bahlul Mustafazada started his footballing education in the youth ranks of Gabala in his homeland and spent time on loan at fellow top-flight club Sumgayit in the 2017-18 season before establishing himself as a first-team player at his boyhood club in the previous campaign.
A string of impressive displays at Gabala paved the way for a move to giants Sabah earlier this summer, with the highly-rated centre-back putting pen to paper on a three-year contract at his new club.
Having represented Azerbaijan at various age-group levels from U17 to U21, the centre-back was recently handed his senior professional debut for his nation back in September in a Euro 2020 qualifying clash against Wales, and he has earned 4 international caps since then.
To put things into perspective, Bahlul Mustafazada has made incredible progress over the last 12 months in Azerbaijan but his lack of exposure at the highest level still makes him a risky proposition for a title-contending club like Rangers.
Notwithstanding the fact that Mustafazada is a centre-back with lots of potential and in the right age bracket, there is hardly any evidence to show that he could possibly come through the door at Ibrox as a substantial upgrade on Rangers’ existing defensive options.
The departure of loanee Joe Worrall to Nottingham Forest and the retirement of Gareth McAuley in the summer prompted Steven Gerrard to splash the cash and bring in Filip Helander as a replacement from Serie A club Bologna.
Geroge Edmundson also arrived from EFL League Two side Oldham Athletic for a thrifty fee to ensure competition for places at the back.
Helander has really come to the fore after a slow start to his time in Glasgow, with the Swedish international putting in some excellent shifts at the heart of the defence in recent weeks, including a defensive masterclass against Porto in the UEFA Europa League.
Connor Goldson has looked shaky at times but he is still a very handy option for Rangers and arguably one of the first names on the manager’s team sheet.
Nikola Katic hasn’t always been a regular starter, however, the Croatian’s recent long-term contract is a clear indication of the fact that he is very much central to Gerrard’s project at Ibrox moving forward.
Unsurprisingly, Edmundson has struggled for playtime following his summer switch north of the border, and Bahlul Mustafazada could also find it tough to break into Gerrard’s plans due to stiff competition for places in the playing eleven.
Suffice to say, with four players competing for two spots in central defence, Rangers already have plenty of competition for places at the back and bringing in the 22-year-old would only be a waste of valuable funds.
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On the contrary, they should concentrate more on investing in the full-back department, with Jon Flanagan’s injury issues making James Tavernier and Borna Barisic the only feasible options on either side of the backline.
That said, Rangers would be wise to drop their interest in Bahlul Mustafazada, as he is still an unproven entity at the highest level, and the Gers certainly cannot afford such gambles if they are to dethrone Celtic.