Kris Commons has claimed Rangers defender Nathan Patterson is a BETTER player than captain James Tavernier - but needs regular game time to prove it.
The highly-rated Light Blues youngster has been attracting a lot of interest from English Premier League clubs, having nailed down a place in Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad.
Everton failed with an initial bid of £5million for the 20-year-old during the summer but have continued to track his progress, while Merseyside rivals Liverpool are also said to be keeping tabs on the right-back.
However, Patterson has been limited to just one start so far this season and former Celtic star Commons is astonished by his lack of competitive action.
He reckons new Gers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who was willing to drop his skipper Dirk Kuyt for the benefit of the team during his time in charge of Feyenoord, will not be afraid to likewise at Ibrox.
Writing in his Daily Mail column, he said: “Van Bronckhorst was a player at the Nou Camp when two youngsters called Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta broke through and became established in the first team. The rest, as they say, is history.
“A highly decorated career saw Van Bronckhorst play under Louis van Gaal, Arsene Wenger, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten, four coaches renowned for their belief in youth development.
“As he gets to grip with life at Rangers, I am sure these experiences will influence the managerial and coaching style we see from Van Bronckhorst at Ibrox.”
Patterson netted his first international goal in a World Cup Qualifier against Moldova and has impressed since dislodging Stephen O’Donnell in the right-back berth.
Commons understands Patterson being compared as the Rangers equivalent to ex-Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney and knows the homegrown talent has the potential to land the club a significant transfer fee.
He continued: “Normally when a player at either one of the Old Firm clubs is being touted for a big-money move to the English Premier League, they have shown excellent form over a sustained period.
“They would typically be considered among the very best players in Scottish football, playing out of their skin on a weekly basis, and also doing it in Europe.
“But Patterson has started only one league game for Rangers this season. By contrast, he’s started three games for Scotland - and scored - over the past couple of international breaks.
“It’s an incredible situation where a player has actually established themselves with their national team before they’ve cemented their place at club level.
“Steven Gerrard branded Everton’s £5million bid for Patterson as a ‘joke’ in the summer. Yet, when it came to the crunch, he hardly played him.
“That comment never really tallied with how he actually used the player. Actions speak louder than words with these things.
“A lot of people believe Patterson is effectively the Rangers equivalent of Kieran Tierney. I can understand it, because he’s a homegrown talent who has come through the academy.
“Just like Tierney, there’s no doubt he will eventually go on to secure a lucrative move elsewhere because he’s got the talent to pretty much go anywhere he wants.
“But here’s the thing, Patterson is now 20-years-old. By that time Tierney was the same age, he had played almost 80 first-team games for Celtic and had won a Treble.
“But Patterson has made just over 20 first-team appearances for Rangers. That’s nowhere near enough for a player of his age and ability.
“I remember when Tierney broke through at Celtic. We already had an outstanding left-back in Emilio Izaguirre, someone who was previously voted Player of the Year in Scotland.
“Tavernier won that award last season, and there’s no doubt he was a worthy recipient for all the goals and assists he provided for his team as the captain who lifted the Premiership trophy.
“But, for me, the similarities are striking. Just as Tierney displaced Izaguirre. I fully believe Patterson is now ready to do the same with Tavernier.
“Ultimately, you can’t hold back talent. Eventually there has to come a point when that talent is given a platform to flourish.
“I read Mark Hateley’s comments over the weekend about Patterson being at a crossroads in his Rangers career, and I fully agree.
“He’s simply too good to spend the rest of the season - possibly longer - in the shadow of Tavernier, twiddling his thumbs on the bench.
“I understand that Tavernier is captain and it might be a difficult conversation for Van Bronckhorst to explain to him that he’s going to be eased aside.
“But Rangers have to take a long-term view on this. These are two players who are at completely opposite ends of their careers.
“Patterson is young, has the world at his feet, and has the potential to land Rangers a massive transfer fee in a few years, as Tierney did with Celtic.
“Tavernier on the other hand in 30 years old. His value is limited and there is also the fact that I believe Patterson is quite simply the better player of the two.”