The news took most Rangers fans by surprise. A contract extension for the departing Connor Goldson appeared nothing more than a pipe dream on Wednesday morning, but, by lunchtime the same day, the 29-year-old had committed the next four years of his career to the Ibrox club.

It was expected that the Goldson-shaped hole in the defence was to be filled by the arriving John Souttar from Hearts, yet the defender’s renewal changes the dynamic slightly.

Souttar is likely to usurp Leon Balogun in the pecking order, but his short-term future at Ibrox could be dictated by Calvin Bassey. The young Nigerian can operate on the left side of central defence or as a left full-back but, with his future up in the air after a blistering end to last season, he could be on his way out of Ibrox if the correct offer arrives.

It leaves Giovanni van Bronckhorst with a welcome personnel headache heading into pre-season.

The Dutchman has been flexible in his deep build-up structure compared to Steven Gerrard. In his early days as Rangers boss, he gave license to James Tavernier to push higher on the right-hand side and retained defensive balance behind the ball by instructing Borna Barisic to tuck infield to form a back three.

Towards the end of the domestic campaign, however, van Bronckhorst unshackled Barisic on the left, with the No.6 – often Steven Davis or John Lundstram – dropping between the central defenders to allow the Croatian to advance.

Should Souttar be given the nod alongside Goldson in central defence in a back four, Rangers could flip between these various build-up shapes.

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In both scenarios, Goldson slides across to the right-hand side, providing the foundations for Rangers’ attacks down that flank.

The 29-year-old has assumed greater passing responsibility under van Bronckhorst, tasked with moving the ball over larger distances compared to his role in possession within Gerrard's system.

There has been a noticeable increase in the volume of his passes since the Dutchman’s arrival in November last year (bottom image), with an emphasis on passes out to his right.

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It was Gerrard who helped hone Goldson’s trademark diagonal pass out of defence towards the left-hand side, but van Bronckhorst has instead repurposed his ability to sling accurate passes into advanced areas.

READ MORE: Deal or no deal? The entire Rangers squad's contracts assessed as Ross Wilson looks to secure key men

Indeed, it was the 29-year-old’s lofted pass out to Tavernier on the right which led to Scott Arfield’s crucial equaliser against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

The threat of the cross-field diagonal from Goldson typically means opponents shuttle their defensive block over to compensate, which opens up space for runners down the ball-near side to be found.

As the defender strides forward in possession below, he looks out towards the opposite flank for a switch of play.

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In doing so, Ross County prepare for the long diagonal pass. Instead, Goldson clips a ball down the right channel…

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…which releases Scott Wright into space behind the opposition’s defensive line.

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It was an area of the game which Souttar also exhibited to an impressively high level at Hearts last season, where he played the vast majority of his minutes on the right-hand side of a three-man defence.

The Scottish Cup final offered the Rangers faithful an exciting glimpse into his ability to stride forward through midfield with the ball.

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Rangers Review:

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The Scotland cap was signed with one eye on the Goldson succession plan heading into next summer. However, with the 29-year-old having committed his future to Ibrox, it appears an increasingly difficult proposition for Souttar to dislodge the Englishman on the right-hand side of defence given his impeccable injury record.

Souttar’s experience playing at the heart of a back three on a couple of occasions for Hearts last season provides a few interesting indicators.

Although slightly different from playing on the left side of central defence in a back four, the spaces which Souttar was tasked with defending are broadly similar to those he will be expected to at Ibrox.

The 25-year-old’s cerebral defensive qualities make him great at reading developing situations.

As Hearts lose possession high up the pitch in the example below, Souttar takes complete command despite playing on his ‘unfavoured’ side.

St. Johnstone retrieve possession and look to transition forward quickly, with Souttar immediately signalling that the Saints attacker to his right needs tracked by his defensive partner.

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He then reads the intentions of the pass forward, quickly taking a step towards his left.

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In doing so, he is able to intercept the pass forward, denying St. Johnstone a counter-attacking opportunity.

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The downside to repurposing Souttar as a left-sided central defender is that it could remove the angles in possession which make him such an assuring presence on the ball.

However, he still boasts the capacity to play accurate long passes out to the left.

As he strides forward with possession, he keeps his eyes fixed downfield.

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He is then able to arrow a perfectly-weighted pass out towards the left flank…

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…Allowing the receiver to take the ball down in his stride.

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This progressive ability in possession marks Souttar out from the likes of Leon Balogun and Filip Helander, with the former currently out of contract.

READ MORE: Rangers retaining their rock in Connor Goldson could be start of exciting summer - Four Lads Had A Dream

Balogun could put pen-to-paper on a new deal to provide cover in that role, although Helander seems ill-suited to the added physicality which van Bronckhorst demands from his side.

Meanwhile, Bassey’s future is the subject of much speculation after a phenomenal end to the season for the 22-year-old.

The Rangers Review analysed Bassey’s possible future role in detail recently, hypothesising that the Nigerian could fulfill a similar remit to Kyle Walker at Manchester City.

Bassey’s defensive athleticism and speed is such that he belongs in a central position, but he has shown an impressive ability to make powerful runs from deep – with and without the ball – to sharpen Rangers’ attacking edge.

The Nigerian doesn’t look to occupy high and wide positions in the way Barisic was instructed under Gerrard to maximise crossing opportunities. Instead, his ability to break forward at just the right moment means he has struck up a promising partnership with Ryan Kent on the left-hand side.

His overlapping run effectively sealed Rangers’ place in the Scottish Cup final last season, despite the 120-minute efforts of Braga in the Europa League quarter-finals three days prior.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Both Bassey and Souttar’s ability as outside central defenders in a back three to make surging runs forward should improve Rangers’ attacking rotations down the flanks. The flexibility which both Ryan Jack and Lundstram provide in being able to rotate into the defence should allow van Bronckhorst to take risks in that regard.

In the end, the unanticipated renewal of Goldson provides van Bronckhorst with enviable depth in the defensive ranks.

The arrival of Souttar provides a defender in the mould of the Gers vice-captain, strong defensively and with the ability to progress the ball over large distances.

Bassey’s capacity to cover ground quickly lends itself on both sides of the ball for Rangers, with his flexibility allowing him to slot seamlessly between a deeper position in the backline and a role as an overlapping full-back.

Barring any future departures, Rangers look well-stocked in the defensive department. It should provide the backbone for next season’s Scottish Premiership title charge.