“We played away at Club Brugge, it finished 2-2 but he had a massive game in every aspect.”

Luka Elsner doesn’t hesitate when asked for a defining memory of Nico Raskin.

“Against the best team in the league, he was really dominant. It was during a hectic time at Standard. This is where you felt his level is for sure going to be quite high. This is when you knew he was Belgium national team material.”

It’s as if this performance is right at the forefront of Elsner’s mind, a memory that’s easily recitable because it has been retrieved before. Throughout the Rangers Review's conversation with last season’s Standard Liege manager, it becomes obvious that Raskin isn’t a name which only rings a bell but strikes a chord.

That meeting with Brugge, in which the young midfielder dominated duels, connected play to the attack and assisted Standard’s second, showed the variety of skills that combine to make Rangers’ most recent acquisition such an exciting one.

“He’s there to win the ball, instead of just reading passes and trying to intercept. Nico goes to the player to take the ball away,” Elsner adds.

“He has a good shot and cross and is able to appear in the box as well. He will rarely lose the ball, holds it under pressure well and can scan the whole pitch.

“He is a big fighter on the field, being a leader in terms of the energy he brings on the pitch. It comes naturally because of his charisma. Nico is able to bring fire to a game by himself and always gives his best.

“For me, those are the qualities that stand out and make him some kind of special player.”

Few in football are better qualified to provide a detailed analysis of Nico Raskin as a player and person than Elsner. His manager for the majority of last season.

The 40-year-old is no longer of that parish. He currently sits top of Ligue 2 in France managing Le Havre after losing his job in Belgium last April. 777 Partner’s takeover of Standard Liege and a disappointing league campaign sealed Elsner's fate during a tumultuous period at the club.

Raskin made a deadline-day move to Ibrox in January, ending a long-standing relationship with the side he joined in 2008, aged seven. The 21-year-old played 96 games for Standard but last featured for Les Rouches in November after it emerged no contract extension agreement was on the horizon. 

“Nico was performing during ups and downs with the team. He was there and never left the field without giving everything that he had,” the Slovenian coach continues, referencing last season.

“In that sense, it was interesting to see him work under pressure because I think it prepared him for whatever was to come in his career.

“He had contract situations in the last six months which might have impacted his position at the club. Before, he was a player you needed to count on because he was there for the team.”

READ MORE: Nicolas Raskin scout report: The man to revitalise Rangers' midfield 

Rangers Review:

“Even before I arrived he had a reputation at the club. He was a main piece in Standard’s first 11 and on the doorstep of the national team. It was obvious because of his quality and potential that he would be an important player for me.”

As outlined in the Rangers Review’s detailed scout report, Raskin is an energetic, progressive midfielder with a broad brush of qualities.

Michael Beale has been at pains to point out that he is not in the 'destroyer' mould of midfield personalities. His off-ball qualities are strong but to focus on that solely overlooks the strengths he offers in possession.

“Raskin is not a tough man. He’s not a tackler, he’s a technical player like Glen [Kamara],” Beale said last week.

“He’ll intercept and run hard but he’s not a little Rottweiler. He can play as a No. 6 or an 8, can dribble with the ball and has a good passing range.”

Elsner’s summation is similar. This isn’t a player who exclusively operates in front of the back four orchestrating play from the base of midfield. Instead, positional freedom is required to harness the full range of Raskin’s capabilities. Something playing in Beale’s double-pivot midfield pairing will facilitate.

“I think he can express himself as a No.6 or a No.8,” Elsner adds.

“He is not a sitting, holding midfielder like Sergio Busquets. That doesn’t define him. I think he needs to be able to move forwards. He can work in a double pivot. But needs to be a guy who can be one step further, and is also able to get on the ball a bit higher in the final third.

“Defensively, he also needs freedom to go and press higher. His game doesn’t function well when everything is static. He’s strong in the transitions as well. I would see him more as a No.8 than a No.6 but I don’t expect him to be in trouble if he plays in a double-pivot.

“His range of passing is impressive, from short to long. One of his best qualities is switching play and seeing the far side of the pitch. It’s rare to see him lose the ball under pressure given his comfort in dense spaces and ability to find solutions. Off the ball he’s like a pitbull. You get him off the leash and he is chasing. Again, not just reading the pass but going to intercept the ball."

What of Raskin the individual? During his unveiling press conference as a Rangers player, the young midfielder beamed at the prospect of pressure. When he arrived off the bench for a brief cameo last weekend against Ross County, possession was demanded immediately. Calling Rangers the ‘big brother’ of Standard Liege given the expectations and history Raskin’s footballing education has arrived within.

His apprenticeship in Belgium will be littered with learning experiences that can be translated to Ibrox.

Beale often repeats the phrase “pressure is a privilege” and admitted that his January arrivals needed to be players who could “grow and not shrink” in front of 50,000 fans, working in the unique environment of Scottish football.

“I think he will thrive in atmospheres and environments where the passion is felt. That’s the advantage of Rangers,” Elsner says on the topic.

“There is a lot of passion around Standard and this is where he is at his best. He is a guy that needs intensity and quality around him.

“He can do a lot of things and is well-adapted to the English and Scottish way of playing; with intensity, fast tempo, speed of game. He’s good at that when games get heated and there’s a lot of up and down on the field I think he can perform well. That’s what I feel he is as a player.”

To play nearly 100 games for a club of Standard’s size aged 21 and be “on the doorstep” of the national team shows a player in a hurry to improve.

“Whenever we had discussions with him about how he could improve, his self-analysis was mature,” Lesner recalls.

“Even though he was young, when you sat down with him and had a chat, he could see where he needed to progress. That raised an interesting level of expectation for him. I felt he needed expectation as if he was a 30-year-old peak player. This is how he behaves and that’s what I liked.

“He needs some attention, he is an emotional player. When he has those emotions under control he can thrive, he’s very good and there were not many games he missed in terms of performance, he’s quite consistent.”

Raskin’s playing style is an embodiment of this curious, hard-working and, ultimately, talented individual. The midfielder is highly regarded in the national set-up for a reason.

“Playing international football for his country needs to be the natural evolution,” Elsner concludes.

“If he finds that stability and in the future can perform in European cups then that will increase his chances. That’s the expected future for him.

“Moving to Rangers in terms of history and passion, it’s quite similar to Standard. I think in terms of expectations and level of football, it’s the right step.”

Raskin is ready to make an impact away from the familiar landscapes of Liege. For Lesner, Ibrox can be a place where he grows, thriving under the intense demands of playing for Rangers.