THE existing dynamic in the Rangers engine room is a unique one.

On the one hand, the Ibrox club have a plethora of options that, when focused, are undoubtedly first-team quality. On the other hand, however, due to a myriad of reasons, few can maintain a consistency that demands that they have that constant presence in the starting 11.

This is somewhat expected as if they were able to maintain top form, the realities of football would dictate that they wouldn't be playing in Scotland.

Having the best talent at centre midfield secured on long-term deals and entering their peak years only occurs in an ideal world, in reality, only a few fulfil even half of that criteria.

For one reason or another, question marks surround Steven Davis, Ryan Jack, Glen Kamara, and James Sands. Whether due to old age, injury concerns, or interest from outside, we are likely to see some movement in the summer. A supporting cast of Charlie McCann and Alex Lowry is exciting, but managing the pair's expectations and minutes is pivotal at this juncture.

Thrusting them into a starting or even high-level rotational role would be irresponsible. As such, Rangers will likely need to find a high-quality, frugal, young, and versatile central midfielder who can be satisfied with a rotational role for at least the early part of their tenure.

READ MORE: Rangers transfer solutions: The powerhouse Congolese Alfredo Morelos replacement scouted

Enter Adam Gnezda Cerin, a 22-year-old Slovenian international on loan at Rijeka from FC Nurnberg. Upon the season's end, Cerin will have completed his two-year-loan deal at Rijeka, with the Croatian club able to take up a purchase option for just shy of £750,000. So let's look at whether Rangers should take an interest in the midfielder and offer Rijeka an avenue for a quick profit.


Cerin is physically ambivalent. He stands at just under six feet with a reasonably slender frame. He doesn't have fantastic upper or lower body strength, though he isn't a pushover to most players. He is quick without rapid and doesn't slow much when dribbling the ball, which proves incredibly valuable. He can leverage his long legs when tackling, hooking and prodding for the ball like Joe Aribo.

The most beneficial quirk of his physical profile is his complete ambidexterity. Cerin is Rijeka's primary corner taker, from both sides, changing foot where one is preferred. It is also impossible to differentiate in the quality of delivery, as both his left and right-footed pings are elegant and accurate.

Rangers Review:

For the most part, Cerin plays either as a 6 or an 8 in a three or as either member of a double pivot, though he does have the technical profile to move higher up the pitch and thrive.

Importantly for Rangers, dispersing attacking threats throughout the front six and perhaps even deeper is crucial to cracking the code domestically, so even though his progressive abilities to some suggest that he is better suited higher up the pitch, his contributions from deep will prove invaluable.

If we move on to the statistical component, the excitement only continues to build. Below is his data profile, filtered against his fellow centre and holding midfielders with over 1000 minutes in Croatia’s 1. HNL this season. Of the over 30 metrics, Cerin ranks in the bottom half for just four; instead, he is found consistently placing in the top third for most metrics. Suppose you look at the cumulative ranking metrics; in that case, Cerin ranks above 65 for all four, suggesting he provides a consistent threat in all facets of a central-midfielders game, with few, maybe even none, providing similar.

Rangers Review:

To put it simply, the data suggests that for this season, Cerin has been the epitome of a complete midfielder, providing a high qualitative and quantitative output across the board.

Quarterback-like Qualities

Cross-sport comparisons are usually lazy and wrong, as the subtle intricacies and differences make it nearly impossible to find any two fundamentally similar roles. Despite this, one of the accurate crossovers is the comparison of American football’s quarter-back and a particular type of holding-midfielder in football.

Often this comparison is misappropriated and wide of the mark. However, Cerin embodies the fundamental qualities of the American football position, at least in the build-up phase. Below we can see ample reason for the comparison, as Cerin takes up a position similar to that of a quarterback pre-hike. This is incredibly common for Cerin, as he is often given the freedom to roam coupled with explicit instruction to progress the ball.

Rangers Review:

Below is Cerin’s pass radar, which communicates how often and at what success rate he passes the ball. Let's look at the two radars just behind the halfway line, classical quarter-back areas. We can see a considerable green tinge in both long diagonals and, in a general sense, any long progressive pass. This suggests he is a high-quantity and quality progressor, often switching the play and leveraging the depth and angles to find and advantage his teammates.

Rangers Review:

Let's take a more deconstructed approach and look at all his progressive actions plotted below. First, the tinges of black and white corroborate the earlier assertion. To state the obvious, he is a more accomplished progressor when passing than dribbling, which is unsurprising and fine.

Rangers Review:

Below are a few in-game examples. First, we see him pick up the ball and under limited pressure ping a long diagonal just inside the box from the halfway line. His forward picks it up with ease and is able to get a shot off. Cerin’s awareness of teammates and surroundings as well as technical ability make this difficult feat look effortless.

Rangers Review:

Below is another example of Cerin appreciating his surroundings. Slovenia have consolidated possession on the left-flank and as such the bulk of both sides are found on this side. He quickly removes himself from the bulk and switches the play, finding a relatively open right-sided option, who is now able to progress and attack.

Rangers Review:

When closer to goal, Cerin remains a credible facilitator, albeit is optimised centrally, as opposed to crossing from wide. Below is a good example, here Cerin beats two PAOK players, manufacturing space for both him to operate in, and his teammate to run into. He plays the pass with the outside of his boot, timing it well and coming out with a shot assist.

Rangers Review:

As the graphic below shows, Cerin is not an assist machine, though both his actual and expected numbers are impressive, both firmly in the top half for positional peers. Though the bulk of the passes seen below doesn’t lead to goals, he does provide a healthy dose of high-quality chance creation.

Rangers Review:

A good example can be seen below; here he plays in a teammate who is attacking the blind side of the widest defender. Cerin’s ball is well flighted and allows the teammate to get a shot off close to goal.

Rangers Review:

When playing the role of receiver, Cerin loves to hang around the left-half space. This is optimal, as it is right in between the right-sided centre-back, full-back, and midfielder, forcing rotations which often come too late if communication is lacking. In the example below, we see him drop deep into the half-space and pick the ball up.

Rangers Review:

Cerin once turning his body to face the goal, plays in his left-winger who is afforded space as Cerin’s original position when receiving the ball forced the right-back to come tight.

Rangers Review:

A final example which shows off his finesse can be seen below. The example comes from Rijeka’s Europa Conference League qualifier against Hibs. Cerin offers an option to his winger, who has isolated the left-back and is looking to play someone in.

Cerin receives the ball, but Ryan Porteous has come tight and left a gaping hole just to the left. Cerin identifies this and shapes up to shoot, but at the last minute allows the ball to come across his body, flicking it to his open teammate.

Rangers Review:

Defensively Solid and Stable

Some may incorrectly judge Cerin as a weak defender due to a mix of his on-ball flair and skinny frame. Despite both of those qualifiers being true, Cerin maintains a net-positive influence out of possession, providing total effort.

When combined with natural game intelligence, he is a tricky proposition to play through. He tends to stay on his feet and aggressively pursue passing lanes. His defensive style would work well when paired with John Lundstram, as both would complement each other's strengths and deficiencies. There may be some difficulty in acclimatising to the physicality of Scotland, especially in a defensive capacity; however, players with slighter frames and poorer defensive acumen have done so.

READ MORE: Abdoulaye Sissako scouted: The Rangers transfer linked man-orientated machine with huge potential

Tangible Scoring Touch

Despite playing quite deep and primarily taking responsibility in matters of build-up and chance facilitation, Cerin does pop up with the odd goal or two. All of his shooting-related metrics for the season fall in the top half compared to his peers. His shot map for the season can be seen below. To no surprise, characteristically, it's mainly comprised of long-distance chances.

Rangers Review:

Despite being yet to register a goal from outside the box, his attempts from distance look good for the most part and occasionally trouble the keeper. He hits them with good pace and accuracy, transferable skills from his passing and crossing repertoires.

Should he move to Rangers, his scoring opportunities should increase regarding both quality and quantity. I don’t think he would satisfy the craving many fans have for a central-midfielder who can chip in with double-digit goals. Still, he should be able to provide a supplementary flow that should help the team tick on.

Fit and Feasibility

I like Cerin a lot, and outgoings dependent, Rangers should take a serious interest in him. Though his profile is not a carbon copy of any player currently at Ibrox, he is similar enough to the likes of Kamara or Davis that he could replace their function in the team.

Rijeka has a long-established glass ceiling of around £2-£3m for their top prospects. However, given the continued financial depression post-Covid, Cerin should be attainable for somewhere between £1.2-£1.5m.

This price range should suit both parties, as Rijeka double their investment in a matter of days, whilst Rangers get in an exciting profile who would work well in Giovanni van Bronckhorst's fluid system.