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Calum Clark writes a detailed scout report about the young Scotland and Rangers winger, Barrie McKay.
With quick feet and an unerring habit of producing spectacular goals it is no wonder that Glasgow Rangers creative winger Barrie McKay is turning the heads of scouts south of the border and further afield on continental Europe.
Having watched the gradual improvement of the now Scotland cap over the last 4 years the creative winger has transformed what was looking like wasted opportunity into international recognition, after spells on loan at Raith Rovers and Greenock Morton coming to nothing spectacular many expected the young Scotsman to fall into the lower reaches of the Scottish game after showing glimpses of raw creative flair matched with speed and skill but under the tutelage of Former Rangers Manager Mark Warburton, Barrie McKay has Progressed into a vital cog in Warburtons vision while at the club with both McKay and Lee Wallace becoming an ever increasing potent attacking weapon for the Ibrox side as they looked to challenge Celtic’s recent dominance in their absence.
The 22-year-old creative winger started his early career at Ayrshire side Kilmarnock where he was for seven years but after picking up a hip injury he was released in the fear that it would lead to long term problems, but Kilmarnock’s loss was to be Glasgow Rangers gain as the youngster was signed on a youth contract and was quickly handed a professional deal in the summer of 2011 at the age of 16.
Due to Rangers’ financial woes and demotion to the bottom tier of Scottish football McKay found himself one of only 9 players left at the club at the start of the 2012-13 season he scored the first goal of that season and both Liverpool and Everton were showing interest in the midfielder, but as Rangers made their way through the leagues, McKay seemed to slip out of the first team and was loaned out to both Raith Rovers and Greenock Morton to help him secure more game time.
As the 2015-16 season came around many though the young creative midfielder would be like many who had come before with the likes of Jamie Ness, Ryan McCabe and John Fleck all showing huge potential before failing to live up to the billing, but Barrie McKay seemed to thrive under the tutelage of new boss Mark Warburton (now former) having his best season in professional football, being a mainstay in the Rangers side netting himself 9 goals in 48 appearances the highlight of which was in the Scottish Cup against fierce rivals Celtic where in extra-time McKay picked the ball in the centre of the pitch beating Scott Brown before piledriving the ball into the top right corner of Craig Gordon’s goal.
His performances that season earned him a Scotland call where he was to earn his first cap in a loss at the hands of France.
This season, despite Rangers’ inconsistency, Barrie McKay has at times been one of the few highlights as he and Lee Wallace continue their fine attacking play which saw the pair once again included in the Scotland squad,
So far this season the winger has looked the main creative threat in the Rangers side and has chipped in with 3 goals in 30 appearances and continued to stand out in the Scottish Premier League with RB Leipzig keen to add the 22-year old the their already impressive squad.
Standing at 5ft 9inches (175mm) the winger is a throwback to a bygone era. As he is diminutive in frame, he uses trickery, pace, and his low centre of gravity to bamboozle and beat many a full back and midfielder. With a high work rate he can run a defender ragged all game which is a rarity in the high-octane pace of British football. His adaptability also marks him out as he can be used on either wing being comfortable on his right and left foot and has been known to play in the hole behind the 9 and even as a central midfielder on occasion.
His dribbling ability and work-rate really set McKay above the average winger, his eye for a ball also sees him regularly lay on goals for his teammates with a majority of chances coming from the side that McKay regularly operates. As mentioned above, his trickery also gives him an added ace in the hole which has been seen when stepping up against better opposition. As far as his performances for Rangers in big games go, the young winger has yet to come up short usually being one of the better performers in each of the recent Old-Firm derbies despite Rangers being on the losing side. His terrific work rate also sees him becoming a defensive asset as playing in a side with overlapping fullbacks you will regularly see McKay filling in at left back showing a maturity beyond his years. To couple with this work rate over the past two seasons his football intelligence has come on in leaps and bounds as he finds pockets of space to play in, regularly losing his marker.
McKay’s main weakness is his complete inability to compete in the air. Even for his relatively small frame it is a glaring weakness. He has also been known to have gaps of form maybe falling out of form for 4 or 5 games before flashing back into life which is a given for most young wingers. His preference to cut inside from the left-hand side does see him become predictable at times especially when being doubled up on as the young winger takes on a man too many losing the ball. Also, despite having a very good striking technique with both feet it would be a stretch to call McKay a goal scoring winger as he has yet to reach double figures for a full season something which he would really need to add to his game to step on to the next level and it will interesting to see if McKay is allowed to develop his game. As Rangers await the appointment of a new manger there is always the chance that McKay may not be given the free reign he once did.
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