A moment during Rangers’ 2-1 win over Hearts back in October was viewed by some as an example of why Ridvan Yilmaz would never become the club’s first-choice left-back.

On that day his height was successfully targeted when Lawrence Shankland opened the scoring with a back-post header.

For all the potential the 22-year-old offered - which at that point hadn’t materialised consistently during a run of fixtures - would this negative not always outweigh the positives?

In a word, no. Hearts’ second visit of the season to Ibrox on Saturday during Rangers’ emphatic 5-0 victory saw Ridvan standout, during what has been his best run of form since joining from Besiktas in 2022. The Turkish international, four and a half months on, is clearly Philippe Clement’s pick at left-back.

Ridvan has already far eclipsed the 6.9 90 minutes afforded last season by February, with 16.8 full games so far. While it’s taken time for the full-back to show supporters his best form, only recently has a run in the team facilitated it.

The left-back never appeared a natural fit for Michael Beale’s width-holding, cross-heavy full-back role.

Clement’s tactical set-up, featuring wingers providing width and flexibility in the positioning of each full-back, allows Ridvan to show off the variety to his game and operate closer to teammates. The focus on ball progression over ball possession also suits Ridvan's ambitious and forward-thinking style (only Dujon Sterling had a lower pass % rate than Ridvan's 73 of those who started for the hosts).

A closer look at Saturday’s win over Hearts, when Ridvan was arguably man of the match, offers plenty of examples. Four of the home side’s five goals derived from the left-hand side as Hearts routinely struggled to adapt to the variety of positions assumed by Oscar Cortes, Ridvan and others.

Take the first goal as an example.

As John Lundstram plays the ball wide to Cortes, Ridvan starts his sprint forward.

With Shankland not tracking the run it falls to the Hearts midfield to deal with Ridvan. If the left-back stays where he is in this frame, offering an option of support to keep possession, the visitors can retain their coverage in the middle of the pitch and force Cortes wide onto his weaker left.

Ridvan’s run, however, forces Hearts backwards, changing the picture of the attack by allowing Cortes to move infield and access space at the edge of the box.

As Manchester City assistant manager Juanma Lillo explained writing for the Athletic during the 2022 World Cup: “There are more and more goals from cutbacks, or backwards passes. Why? Because teams try to play as far as they can from their own goal, when they break through the opponent’s defensive line they’re going so quickly that the players in the middle go ahead of the one who has the ball out wide.

“I used to say in Manchester that the last player to arrive to the box is the first one to be able to shoot. I tell that to my strikers all the time: the closer you get to the goal, the further you are from scoring.

“Every team is so concerned about defending and controlling the spaces close to their goal that there are now more threats from further away.”

While Ridvan does not create this goal with his on-ball actions, a willingness to run forwards helps to, as Lillo observes, push the Hearts defence deep after it's been high to create the yards of space Diomande requires to finish.

Only one pass is played between these two frames - but thanks to Cortes’ excellent decision-making to slow and speed the game in the right moments and Ridvan’s run from left-back, the second provides a scoring chance for Rangers.

From here Cortes lays the ball back to Diomande who takes one touch to shift onto his left and find the far corner.

At a slower pace and with less direct involvement notice the left-back’s movement in the lead-up to John Souttar’s stunning assist for Cyriel Dessers. Again pushing back the Hearts defence, helping create room for the pass, and ending up in the left half-space.

Although again Ridvan’s involvement is indirect here it’s his comfort in occupying these positions, in a way Barisic does not, that stands out.

It's no coincidence that the conventional slot a left-back would fill for the first and third goals is where the assist derives from. Ridvan's forward-running unsettles defences and creates space for rotation and variation.

The 22-year-old normally knows what his winger needs, mixing up runs on the inside and outside. It means opponents are continually reacting to different movements, rather than always being set up to track an overlap as was the case when Ryan Kent and Barisic were the left-sided pairing under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

Take this shot in the second half that flew over the bar. Because Ridvan can go inside or around Cortes, the Hearts defence is forced to react to his movement. Notice the narrow positioning of each full-back.

Dessers’ excellent chance in the first half, which was narrowly offside, came from a similar moment as Ridvan became the extra player in midfield to create an overload and find space from a good distance to shoot.

While overlaps can be threatening, Ridvan can attack teams centrally and break through blocks. In an example like the one above, going around the defence in a traditional overlapping full-back mould would only allow greater time for recovery.

Ridvan impressed in other capacities; strong in his one-v-ones with Nat Atkinson, making six tackles and interceptions, and successful in 14/20 duels, winning 100% of his aerial duels, playing a few crosses that should’ve had a taker and carrying the ball forwards effectively too.

The former Besiktas man is capable of beating his man one-on-one meaning that, in instances like the below GIF, the full-back can target space centrally rather than relying on a pass to progress play. Look where Ridvan receives the ball and ends up with it in the below frames.

The thing is, often in games at Ibrox it’s full-backs who have most of the ball as opponents protect the centre. Clement’s use of wingers makes the wide areas more threatening against low blocks and stops play from going side to side.

James Tavernier discussed the evolution of his role under Clement during a recent interview with the Rangers Review, now frequently playing inside the pitch. Look at this screenshot from the recent 3-1 home win over Ross County and notice the position of each full-back.

Against Hearts, as demonstrated in the below GIF sequence, Ridvan’s crossing was also the best it has looked. This is Barisic’s unique selling point, with a delivery that only Tavernier can rival in the Scottish Premiership, but appears an area Ridvan is improving in.

Barisic may well start against Kilmarnock on Wednesday facing one of the most direct and physical challenges in the league this season, given his superior size.

However, generally, Ridvan epitomises Clement’s football so far. Fast, forward-thinking, full of energy, varied and a breath of fresh air.

He’s a left-back who presents defences with all types of problems given the variety in his game and as Rangers seek to routinely “break the wall” they face, Ridvan’s performances are proving vital.