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Is Rangers prodigy Barrie McKay set to depart Ibrox?

Tuesday 18th April 2017
What a difference a year can make – particularly in football. Just twelve months ago, a 21-year-old Barrie McKay helped Rangers beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park.

The diminutive winger lashed home a screamer before tucking away his spot-kick in Rangers' ensuing penalty shootout victory.

A month later, McKay had won his first (and to date, only) Scotland cap in a friendly against France.

But things haven't gone anywhere near as smoothly this season, with a prolonged spell of poor form under previous manager Mark Warburton seemingly continuing under present incumbent Pedro Caixinha.

And there's also the added complication of frequent transfer speculation, undoubtedly fuelled in some part by McKay's refusal to sign a new contract in the not too distant past.

There had been suggestions from some quarters that Rangers' precocious attacker was offered less than some of the club's more peripheral players, and this has so far proved to be a significant stumbling block.

Last week, Caixinha challenged McKay to prove he is worth an improved deal before substituting him at half-time in Saturday's 2-0 victory at home to Partick Thistle.

The Portuguese was quoted as saying: “I want more than just a skilful player. I want him to be more aggressive, to see the game differently and to be more pro-active.

“The fact he is a fantastic player makes it easier to add more tools to what he already has.

“Barrie could reach European and international team level – that's what I want to happen.”
For the time being, though, it would appear McKay is struggling to hold down a regular place under his new manager.

And when he has appeared, the Paisley-born attacker has rarely eclipsed the high standards set last campaign.

There has been the odd glimmer – like in the New Year's Eve match against Celtic where he was arguably the best player on the pitch – but some consistency is certainly lacking.

His stats this season pay credence to that viewpoint. Just three goals and four assists in 31 league outings is a disappointing return for a player many hoped would be the shining light in Rangers' front three.

Despite these low numbers, it is unsurprising that rumours regarding McKay's future persist.

There have even been suggestions that he might follow fellow Scot Oliver Burke to RB Leipzig, who last weekend secured Champions League qualification just eight years after being formed as a club.

Indeed, the Daily Record revealed that transfer negotiations between Rangers and Leipzig had taken place after McKay impressed during a mid-season friendly.

A figure of £6million was mooted at the time – less than half what the German outfit paid Nottingham Forest for Scotland international Burke.

As things stand, the Light Blues number ten has just thirteen months left on his existing deal which expires at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.

The overwhelming majority of Rangers fans will, therefore, be hoping that an agreement is soon reached to prevent one of the country's most coveted youngsters from leaving the club.

But if that doesn't happen, then one thing is guaranteed.

There will be a whole host of potential suitors lining up to secure the 22-year-old's signature. It will be a mistake from Glasgow Rangers to let Barrie McKay leave.
James Smith

26-year-old football enthusiast and staunch advocate of all things gambling. Bluenose, for my sins. I have a passion for writing about football - particularly Rangers. My time is spent in London and Glasgow.

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