RANGERS have utilised the Scottish market notably well on two occasions in the past three seasons.

In 2019, Glen Kamara arrived for a much-celebrated 50 grand and in the proceeding two-and-a-half years has solidified himself as an international level footballer.

Scott Wright signed from Aberdeen in January of this year and while he is yet to establish himself consistently in the first team, you’d struggle to find a supporter who would not brandish the deal a success.

Could and should Hearts’ midfielder Beni Baningime be next in line?

The defensive midfielder joined in the summer from Everton. He made 12 appearances for his boyhood club, subsequent loans with Wigan and Derby followed.

An evident appetite to kick on with his career has led to a highly impressive start at Tynecastle, where already he is adorning himself as somewhat of a fans favourite.

But what is he doing well and could it be replicated at Rangers? 

StatsBomb breakdown breakdown

First, let’s look at Baningime’s defensive midfield radar.

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Baningime ranks really high across a number of metrics and nearly sets the boundaries on tackles and interceptions, counterpressures, PAdj pressure and aggressive actions.

He isn't quite as high on the dribbled past and dribbles defended metrics, but this is likely due to the volume of duels he is facing.

Low deep progressions (passes, dribbles and carries into the final third) are notable.

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A review of a more general midfield radar demonstrates how defence-focused his role is under Robbie Neilson, he has not yet attempted a shot in six matches. The lack of involvement in build-up and creation is clear.

As will be divulged later in this piece, he does possess neat skills in one-on-one offensive duels. His heavy-defensive role does not necessarily suggest he cannot contribute to this phase of play.

Because of his role, it’s most useful to compare his numbers with Rangers’ most defensive midfielder last season, Steven Davis.

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Davis’ midfield radar from last season outlines the importance of the No.6 in defence and attack at Rangers.

Hearts’ have a differing style to Rangers and dominate the ball less. For example, so far this season Rangers’ average goalkeeper pass length in the league is 29.64 metres to Hearts' 48.80.

Steven Gerrard's team have averaged 64% possession in the league to Hearts' 51%. 

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Comparison of the pair’s defensive midfield radar, which is more descriptive of the role of Baningime than Davis, shows a more equal range.

In terms of off-ball aggressive actions, the Hearts man leads the way, however, he is still making a low number of deep progressions when compared to solely defensive midfielders.

In the Premiership so far this season, Baningime has the second-highest counterpressures at 5.95 per/90, the fourth highest PAdj pressures at 23.82 per/90, the third-highest tackles per/90 and the fifth-highest number of aggressive actions (tackles and pressures within two seconds of his team losing the ball) at 27.55 per/90.

In-game analysis

Let's look at some key in-game traits from Baningime's game.

Anticipating danger and playing out 

Baningime always appears alive to situations and anticipates danger well, small details such as not watching passages of play but moving in conjunction with them tell us this.

He turns to face play if the ball goes through or over the midfield and competes aggressively for second balls.

As well as this, he possesses the ability to play out of danger and play through pressure. While he perhaps is not quite at the press-resistant standards of Glen Kamara, who allows his team to break pressure by using his body orientation to get out of tight spots, he does possess some similar skills.

READ MORE: Mel Sterland on his Rangers dream Graeme Souness ended prematurely and playing in 'frightening' Old Firm

Take this example against Hibs, as the ball goes over the defence he turns to face his backline as they head clear.

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Notice as the ball is in the air, he scans over his shoulder to scope his next move.

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Subsequently, the former Everton midfielder takes out the first man with an intelligent touch before a drop of the shoulder creates the space to dash past Chris Cadden.

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You can see Cadden’s body weight has been shifted to his left, Baningime has fooled him with a quick feint.

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Later in the same game, we’re shown another example. Boxed in by Kyle Magennis, Baningime shows the opponent a glimpse of the ball while shifting his weight backwards.

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Magenis falls for the ploy and a quick stepover the ball sees him drag it into space, again shifting his body weight intelligently to create room and then exploit it.

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Winning '30/70' tackles'

Another evident aspect of the 23-year-old’s game is the edge he seems to have in the tackle to win balls that may be only 30/70 or so in his favour, thanks to the manner in which he adjusts his body to engage.

In Hearts’ 2-1 win over Celtic at the start of the season, David Turnbull takes a good touch around Baningime, seemingly giving him the momentum to go past his man.

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However, the strength of Turnbull’s opponent allows him to win the duel.

Look at his body shape below, he’s not flat, but engaging his low centre of gravity allowing him to jump into the tackle by shifting weight onto his right leg.

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Further evidence, this time from a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen. Baningime literally has his back turned in this scenario, hence why his No.6 is visible, as Lewis Ferguson looks to take the ball into midfield.

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Somehow, he recovers to win the ball in a challenge on the half turn.

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Cutting passing lanes and intercepting 

Rangers midfielders in the tactical system implemented by Gerrard are tasked with cutting angles and passing lanes.

The above-mentioned athleticism, anticipation and action-man hips Baningime possesses make him well suited for this task. 

He has a notable ability to invite players into playing a ball down a passing lane before quickly twisting his hips to change direction and intercept. A subtle but nonetheless intelligent use of his body.

Against Dundee United in a 2-0 win, he appears to expect a backwards pass.

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But rather, a quick step back as the ball is released to try and cut through the midfield shows that the midfielder was inviting and aware that such a ball may occur, he can block the passing lane and possession turns over.

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Another example from the 2-1 win over Celtic demonstrates this trait.

As Anthony Ralston runs forward, Baningime’s body position seems to suggest that he is committing to preventing the ball into David Turnbull or pressurising his subsequent first touch.

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But look how quickly between these frames he manages to twist into a position where he can intercept the pass across the pitch to Callum McGregor. Again inviting a pass into a dangerous area before cancelling it.

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This is a noticeable trait of Baningime, he is rarely passive defensively.

With cover available here, he could be tempted to simply close the lane to Turnbull and allow possession to go around his side. 

But instead, his intention is to regain possession.

A final example of this can be found in the recent Edinburgh derby, where Baningime shows just the right amount of a passing lane for Cadden to attempt to play the ball into the feet of Martin Boyle.

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Yet again, the 23-year-old anticipates danger and has positioned himself perfectly to account for the distance he will need to make up in order to close the passing lane and protect his defence.

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Supplementing the defensive line 

Something that has hamstrung Rangers this season is the overloading of their defence.

READ MORE: Why were Steven Gerrard's side defensively vulnerable against Ross County?

The backline has appeared vulnerable when third-man runs or movement off the shoulder of the midfield has created man for man scenarios.

Against Motherwell at the weekend Mark O’Hara broke through from the middle of the pitch unmarked in the lead up to their goal.

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Compare that move to Baningime’s back-tracking with his runner in this example against St Mirren.

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A lower camera angle doesn’t quite exemplify how big the gap is that the home side has created in defence, but it's similar to the example from Ibrox.

As his man bursts through, Baningime protects his defence excellently.

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Against Aberdeen, he is alert to danger as centre-back Craig Halket is pulled out of defence by Christian Ramirez, leaving a sizeable gap in the backline.

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This is a tactic Rangers often utilise, as discussed at length in The Rangers Review’s piece on Alfredo Morelos’ tactical evolution.

As Halkett and Ramirez move towards the ball, Baningime is already retreating, his positioning is excellent to prevent a dangerous opportunity.

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There is a reason Hearts fans have taken to Beni Baningime so quickly.

The 23-year-old is statistically one of the best defensive midfielders in the division and has excelled in end-to-end games with Celtic and Hibernian.

In the absence of Ryan Jack, Rangers often really miss a midfielder who is comfortable tracking runs from midfield beyond the defence, a void Baningime could conceivably fill.

Over the season, it will be interesting to measure his progress with the ball as Rangers would require a much higher offensive output from him as a No.6 or No.8.

However, it's important to remember that these numbers are reflective of the system he is playing in and the responsibilities that entails. 

Could Baningime be the next Kamara or Wright? Time will tell.