We are just 13 days into the January transfer window and Rangers have already started their transfer activity. The reason is pretty clear as they have failed to match Celtic’s quality in the Premiership after their four-year absence in the top flight. Both players Rangers have signed in January are midfielders and are pretty decent ones too. One is Emerson Hyndman on loan from Bournemouth and another is Jon Toral on loan from Arsenal.
Rangers have clearly struggled in the middle of the park this season, mostly due to the injury problems. Niko Kranjcar is out for the rest of the season while the likes of Jordan Rossiter, Josh Windass and Matt Crooks have also been in and out of the side. Crooks was shipped on loan to Scunthorpe of late as Warburton wants him to get first-team experience.
So, what will be Rangers’ best possible midfield lineup right now? Warburton has kept his faith in the 4-3-3 formation even after signing Kranjcar, who is a number ten by trade. He is unlikely to tweak his tactics after the arrivals of Toral and Hyndman. Both Arsenal and Bournemouth will demand their players get as many first-team opportunities as possible and that is why the youngsters also moved to the north of the border. So, who are the players to make ways for the two midfielders?
Even though Toral is more of a number ten, he is likely to be deployed in a deeper role by Warburton. However, considering his quality, he should be a regular in the side. We cannot say the same about Hyndman, though. Toral was a big hit at both Brentford and Birmingham City whilst on loan from the North London club. Hyndman, on the contrary, is unproven and we cannot presume that he’ll be a regular at Ibrox.
Andy Halliday is an indispensable member of the squad and his place in the middle of the park seems to be untouchable. Warburton signed Joey Barton for the holding midfield role but since his Rangers career came to an immature end, Halliday has been a revelation in that role. Rossiter is yet to come back from his injury troubles, so it is unlikely that Halliday will be sacrificed as the deepest midfielder.
So Halliday is expected to keep his number six position and Toral could partner him in one of the other two positions. The other box to box midfield position will be contested by Hyndman, Holt, Windass and Rossiter when he comes back from injury.