Ibrox View: Mariappa would be savvy free signing for Rangers to cover Katic absence
Rangers face a tricky decision when it comes to whether or not they should buy extra cover at centre-back this summer.
On the one hand, Nikola Katic’s injury looks set to leave them understaffed for quite some time, but on the other, Steven Gerrard will no doubt be reluctant to spend big on a shirt term fix when there are so many other areas that he needs to reinforce.
Perhaps then, the ideal solution would be to bring in somebody on a free.
One player who the Daily Record have suggested could be a potential option is Watford centre-back Adrien Mariappa.
The 33-year-old is out of contract in England this summer, and with over 100 Premier League appearances to his name, would bring plenty of experience to the Gers’ squad if they did decide to pursue a free transfer.
Admittedly, his stats don’t quite measure up to Katic’s.
According to Wyscout, he has made 0.87 fewer interceptions this season, has a pass completion rate which is 2.3% worse, and has made 1.39 fewer clearances.
But that’s not to say that he’s a bad player by any stretch.
We have to go back to last year to the last time that Mariappa was consistently placing in the heart of defence, but as his interception map from the FA Cup clash with Everton proves, he is more than capable of stepping into the breach when required.
The Jamaica international made seven interventions in that match, with four of them inside his own box.
One in particular stands out because it saved a certain goal.
Mariappa is the player circled above.
As the ball is played across, he is on his way out of play, and would be forgiven if he switched off given the number of teammates he has in the penalty area.
But instead, he stays alert to the threat, and tracks across behind his goalkeeper to cover the open net.
And it pays off too, because by the time the shot comes in, he is in the perfect position to make a vital goal-line clearance.
It may only be a block in a game that Watford went on to lose anyway, but what it really signifies is that Mariappa has great anticipation and reading of the game built up from years of experience.
None of those traits are ever a bad thing, and we would be in favour of a short term deal, especially if it was for free.
In other Rangers news, Ibrox View: Rangers could get 20/21 boost after transfer reports on rival striker.