BLACKBURN Rovers midfielder Joe Rothwell has been linked with a move to Rangers in recent weeks.

After coming through the Manchester United academy the midfielder has made a name for himself at Blackburn Rovers – having joined from Oxford in 2018.

The 26-year-old is out of contract next summer. Prompting speculation that a Bosman deal may be attainable for Rangers.

Steven Gerrard added John Lundstram and Juninho Bacuna to his squad this summer – while Glen Kamara’s new deal makes the long-term solidity of the midfield look more secure.

However, it seems likely that Kamara will at some point move south for big money in keeping with the player-trading model. And at 36, Steven Davis’s playing time will naturally only decrease this season compared to last.

So, is Rothwell a player who could improve the Ibrox midfield?

What type of player is he?

Versatility has become somewhat of a buzzword in football – regardless, it is accurate of the role Rothwell plays at Blackburn.

Tony Mowbray’s team have lined up in a variety of shapes in season 20/21 and the early parts of this campaign.

Everything from a 4-2-3-1, to 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2 to 4-1-4-1 – part of the reason such variation can be achieved is because of Rothwell’s ability to fulfil different roles.

The 26-year-old can play in a double-pivot, to the right and left of a three-man midfield, as the No.10 or from the left of midfield. His attributes probably best generally identify him as a No.8.

READ MORE: Three out of contract players Rangers could target in January to address squad disruption

He fits the general mould of a modern-day midfielder who can outplay an opponent – but in a slightly different style to the likes of Kamara.

The Fin's attributes are best utilised to allow his team to play into and through pressure.

This was on show at the weekend when a drop of the shoulder saw his team trigger Hibs’ press before playing through it.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rothwell on the other hand is more of a 'shoulders down', winger-like dribbler.

Possessing a low centre of gravity, he is able to glide and drive past players in a style Kamara isn’t as renowned for.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Speaking during his time as a youth player at Manchester United, Rothwell said: "My main asset is driving past players, beating players and bringing others into play."

Nicky Butt, then the academy manager, said: "Joe has a great burst of energy and can surge through. It’s something he has to work on – he can do that more often."

Former Scotland captain Darren Fletcher compared his style to Jesse Lingard and that ability remains the key asset of his game.

Stylistically, it is Rothwell’s dynamism and dribbling ability that stands out. In the pool of Championship midfielders this season he has made the fifth-highest number of progressive runs and the 18th highest number of dribbles.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

In the last year, he has made 76 dribbles into the final third. These runs have led to 30 shots - but only three goals and an xG of 3.71, suggesting a lack of end product matches his box to box ability.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

His shot map and final third pass map from the last year both indicate a preference to attack from the left. As well as a tendency to take speculative efforts, something unlikely to be encouraged at Ibrox.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review: Rothwell's pass sonar demonstrates a tendency to go long from deep in midfield. He appears a player more comfortable progressing the ball through take-ons as opposed to passes – ranking 60th for progressive passes this season.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

A view from the press gantry

“I don’t think there’s a player who divides opinion as much as Joe Rothwell,” says Jaquob Crooke – a journalist who covers Blackburn Rovers.

“That’s perhaps testament to a player who’s capable of impacting the Premier League but fails to sustain his performance levels over the course of a campaign.

“He can single-handedly win you a contest but also has the tendency to go missing from time to time - although consistency has improved to what it was several years ago. Tony Mowbray has attempted to drill in the importance of his work when out of possession and on the basis of this season and the one before, it appears to be paying dividends as Rothwell displays elements to suggest he’s a more rounded individual at a key stage of his career.

“With the ball at his feet and a corridor of space before him, he’s mesmerising. A sharp flash of acceleration, the intricate ball control and the ability to weave his way through a sea of defenders as though they’re mannequins. If you’re a team that struggles to transition, Rothwell is the man to carry you forward.

“Between both boxes he’s magnificent, it’s what he does in the final third that’s a source of frustration. His goal and assist returns are indicative of a player who frequently lacks conviction near the opposition penalty area and it’s a component of his game he’s been eager to improve.

READ MORE: Beni Baningime scouted: Should Rangers target the Hearts' midfield powerhouse with action-man hips?

"His assist against Huddersfield Town this season and goals against Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday (both December) last season demonstrate he’s capable of carving through opposition and executing a pass or run but not being able to reproduce that on a consistent basis has hindered him.

“And as mentioned previously, the defensive aspects to his game have improved considerably. There’s a greater work ethic, increase in distance covered and a desire to tackle, pinch and retrieve possession. He’s not a passenger, he can fight.”

Rothwell may well fall into the same category of judgement that Bacuna did when he arrived this summer. A player who has raw attributes that perhaps haven't yet quite been fully utilised. He's at a key stage in his career needs to make his next move the correct one.

He certainly would fit the profile of a project player and not a complete package. 

Whether that will be enough for the Rangers midfield moving forward remains to be seen.