Everyone has spent the best part of six months speculating how Rangers would replace one, or even two starting centre-backs.

Prior to Wednesday, Connor Goldson looked to be heading out the Ibrox exit door having run down his contract while there is growing interest in Calvin Bassey given his impressive displays last season.

Bassey’s unique skill-set has become ingrained in Giovanni van Bronckhorst's system. His ball-carrying, aggressive defensive style and strong left-foot see him in a relatively exclusive club with a price tags to match. Finding someone with the same upside as Bassey for a realistic fee is the stuff of dreams.

However, one player does stand out who satisfies most, if not all, of the attributes that would be needed should last season's Young Player of the Year leave. That man is a former Canadian teammate of Scott Arfield and current CF Montreal centre-back Kamal Miller.


25-year-old Miller's physique is reminiscent of Bassey's, which is about as impressive a co-sign as an athlete can have. He makes up for what he lacks in height (183cm) with his jumping leap, muscle mass and strength.

Miller's top-heaviness, much like Bassey, often makes him appear uncomfortable when running. However, looks can be deceiving. Miller is a direct and quick runner, which comes in handy when making recovery runs.

Both also turn out at both left-back and left-centre-back, and even when playing centrally, Miller, like Bassey, is often given space to roam and progress the ball. Below is Miller's heatmap, which is incredibly wide and progressive for a centre-back who is yet to play at left-back this season which he has done in previous terms. It is important to note that he has played in a three at Montreal, but still, all the system can do is give him the freedom to roam and move; it's up to the player to succeed.

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Below is Bassey’s 2021/22 heatmap, which is similar to Miller’s above. Albeit Bassey’s hotspots extend further forward. That is primarily due to his stint at left-back, compounded by the Rangers' system and their expectations of a fullback.

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Below is Miller’s data profile from his current 2022 MLS season. Immediately you may be unimpressed with his defensive rating and stats. However, this is common for centre-backs who play in possession heavy-teams and only compounded by a three at the back system. While Goldson and Leon Balogun’s defensive stats fail to impress it's doubtful anyone would contend that they are not decent defenders, so take these metrics with a pinch of salt.

READ MORE: Rangers transfer scouting: The flying Norwegian ball carrying winger who could replace Ryan Kent

If we look beyond that eye-sore, Miller’s output is incredible, with only a single stat falling below the 50th percentile for all passing, movement and attacking relating metrics. What’s exciting is that Miller has both the experience and the excellence playing as a possession-heavy centre-back involved in build-up play.

It's just the profile that Rangers are looking for and the cherry on top, the ability to carry the ball, evidenced by his fantastic movement rating is even better.

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Leveraging His Athleticism to Supercharge Defensive Efficacy

Miller is an all-action defender who makes the most mundane tasks entertaining without comprising efficacy. Much like Bassey, his physique is ideally suited for play as the more aggressive member of a centre-back partnership. Even should he misjudge or mistake an opponent he has the physical capabilities to recover with ease.

Given that Miller plays as Montreal's widest centre-back, he is often tasked with dealing with opposition wingers, generally a fullback's duty. For most centre-backs, this matchup is a complete mismatch. The winger is always expected to come out best due to their pace, but Miller usurps this natural advantage. When being faced up, his quick movement and ability to contour angles make him incredibly difficult to dribble past; just look below for the archetypal example.

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Should he be late to close out or forced to rotate given a teammate's failures, he has been an effective recovery runner. We can see this below, as he tracks the New York Red Bulls winger before cutting off the pass and quickly distributing it forward to the sitting midfielder.

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When further up the field, Miller’s ability to pick off wingers retains its value. He is perfect for a side looking to lock in the opposition and maintain pressure. He knows that he can commit to the challenge with certainty, as his recovery pace gives him every chance to compete should he be beaten. Below is a good example; here, we see him picking off the Philadelphia Union winger, who is the lone runner, with ease, before then carrying the ball into the space vacated by that runner.

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He can also leverage his athleticism to access and stop opposition shots and moves in hard to get areas. He can usurp positional disadvantages through sheer force as well as his game intelligence. The example below is a sound synthesis. Here he moves goalside as soon as the winger has turned the goalkeeper. Due to his pace and determination, he can get into a position to block the shot heading towards an empty net.

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Miller is an intelligent reader of the game, showing this off when blocking passing lanes and shots. Whether space is abundant or tight, he is consistently in the right spot at the right time. Below we can see an excellent example of this. Cruz Azul’s winger has made in-roads on the right-hand side, attracting a double team from Montreal. Given this overload, one of Cruz Azul’s centre-midfielders is free to make a supporting run which he does directly into the box. Miller identifies this, steps out and picks off the cross played towards the supporting runner, depressurising what could have been a high-value opportunity.

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Expand the scenario to one with greater space, and the outcome is essentially the same. The width that Miami is playing with below should see them generate a two on one against Miller on the right side. Still, he takes the risk, jumps in front of the winger, and successfully forces a turnover of possession.

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Miller and Bassey are defensively inseparable. Both maintain incredibly similar styles, though if forced to pick, the Nigerian is the more effective and technically sound. Given this aggressive defensive style, a more passive and secure defensive partner is likely a prerequisite for success. Even though it would be fun to watch Bassey and Miller hound opponents down for 90 minutes, it's doubtful it would be all too successful.

Adventurous and Powerful Runner

Given how deep Rangers start their build-up and the time the centre-backs are afforded in possession, having players who can break the lines through passing or running is imperative.

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Goldson is a specialist at the former whilst Bassey is fantastic at the latter; Miller again mirrors Bassey. Much like when it came to defending, Miller’s broad frame and quick feet prove valuable when dribbling as it is near impossible to jockey him. His intelligent and direct movement on the ball proves beneficial in all thirds of the pitch.

Below we can see an example in his defensive third. He quickly explodes towards the open space, acting as the catalyst for Montreal’s counter-attack.

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His ability to shift the ball at pace in the middle third allows him to skirt pressing efforts from opposition forwards. A great example of this is seen below. He quickly shifts the ball to his left foot to beat the Nashville forward before moving forward to force a defensive rotation before picking out an open teammate.

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In the final third, increased precision is required, which often is a stumbling block for Miller, as his touch is good. Still, he often is unable to decelerate when needed. When he can control his speed, Miller is tough to stop as he provides a nice mix of flair, power, and intelligence. Below is an excellent example of this; we see him take on multiple defenders, first with his right foot and then with his left, before hitting the byline and crossing the ball.

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Another example can be seen below, where Miller quickly shifts onto his right foot. He does this fast enough to create absolute separation from his man and is given the space to cross.

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Miller’s ability to run with the ball allows him to be a credible left-back option. However, like Bassey, he can, sometimes lack the finesse to beat opposition defenders out-wide. Despite this, the dynamism and power he runs with are perfect for progressing the ball from deep into the opposition half.

Value in Build-Up and Chance Creation

Miller is an effective and secure option in possession. He is one of Montreal’s primary options in the build-up and utilises a broad and creative passing range. In this respect, he falls between Bassey and Goldson, being a better option than Bassey but far less consistent than Goldson. Partnered with his ability to dribble the ball, his passing ability proves incredibly valuable when the goal is to gain yardage. Below is a great example; he beats the lead presser with a side-step before playing a direct ball to the right-winger, circumventing the entire midfield block.

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Over longer distances, his quality remains though his consistency drops off. Still, that is expected for most, if not all, footballers. The ball finds itself at his feet after receiving a pass from one of his centre-backs before playing it diagonally towards his right-winger with a great mix of height and pace. Again, he circumvents the midfield block and gets the ball straight to those most effective and threatening.

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Out-wide, Miller retains some value, as he is a decent crosser of the ball. He is a far better option when jogging or from a standing position. However, on occasion, he can send in a suitable delivery mid-sprint. Below is an excellent example of his crossing ability, even with his weak foot, where he can chip the ball over the front-post defender towards a completely open forward, who heads the ball into the back of the net.

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Miller hits the minimum requirement of passing value for a Rangers centre-back. It's doubtful he is good enough on the ball to be the primary build-up option. However, playing alongside someone like Goldson or John Souttar would benefit both parties as it would provide a great mesh of running and passing progression.

Fit and Feasibility

Miller is a contingency for a Bassey or Filip Helander departure. Should Rangers lose one of their left-footers, Miller would provide an upgrade on the Swede and provide stylistic continuity from the Nigerian.

Miller’s contracted to Montreal until December 2024 but would likely be available for a decent fee of somewhere around £2-3m. Given his unique profile and relative youth, this could prove a fantastic piece of business should stipulations force Rangers into the market for a left-footer.