Why Rangers kid Glenn Middleton signing for Hibs would make sense for all involved
Hibs are looking to sign Glenn Middleton on loan from Rangers. Craig Fowler explains what he would bring to the Easter Road squad.
The 19-year-old looked set to complete a move to NAC Breda on Friday, with even manager Steven Gerrard remarking that the transfer was close to completion.
However, once you get over the initial surprise, it's a move that makes sense for all parties, especially Paul Heckingbottom's side.
The manager's insistence that Hibs were finished in the transfer window suddenly became premature when Martin Boyle was ruled out for the foreseeable future with another knee injury. Having looked to utilise three wingers for the two positions this campaign, Heckingbottom found himself missing such flexibility and has quickly went about rectifying that.
In Middleton he'll be signing a young player with bags of potential, but also someone who should be able to come straight into the team and contribute this season.
Despite his tender age, the former Norwich City academy graduate has little fear about performing in front of an expectant crowd. He started most of Rangers' Europa League matches last term and was excellent in the 4-3 defeat away to Spartak Moscow, a game in which he scored.
Though he drifted out of the side towards the end of the campaign as Ryan Kent rose to the fore, his statistics highlight a successful debut season as a first-team squad player. He finished with 0.39 assists per 90 minutes in the Ladbrokes Premiership - a rate that bettered all other players in Scotland's top flight.
He's an old school winger in style. He's got pace, trickery and likes to run at defenders. His 6.63 crosses per 90 minutes was the third highest total in the league last term behind only team-mate Borna Barisic and Celtic wide-man Jonny Hayes. He's creative and the type of player who should excite the fans.
It is perhaps a little curious that Heckingbottom has decided to pursue a left winger, seeing as of the two wide-man currently available - Joe Newell and Daryl Horgan - are both at their strongest on that flank. Then again, Horgan did impress on the right after Boyle's injury last term and, while it's still early days, fans aren't exactly enamoured with Newell's performances since making his summer move from Rotherham.
A key member of the Yorkshire side that won the 2017/18 League One play-off final - he provided two assists in the 2-1 win - Newell struggled with the move up to the Championship and those hardships appear to have dented his confidence. Against St Mirren on Saturday he was absent from the action for long stretches as he seemed unsure of how to insist his presence upon proceedings and it would make perfect sense to take him out of the firing line while he adjusts to life at his new club.
As for Rangers and Middleton, it may be considered narrow-minded to have him remain in Scotland when he could be experiencing another culture and a different style of football by going to the Netherlands. However, considering he's still a teenager, they must surely be happier to keep him in a situation where they can easily monitor his progress and how he's handling a season away from Ibrox.
As we said at the beginning, this is a move that suits all parties.