Former Scotland international Christophe Berra claims Rangers defender Calvin Bassey has the potential to become the next Virgil van Dijk.
The versatile 22-year-old, who has shown himself to be just as effective at centre back and at left back, earned rave reviews for his performances this season and transfer interest continues to intensify.
The Nigerian international has been the Light Blues star performer in recent weeks, with his displays in the Europa League Final and during Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final further outling his speedy development.
Bassey showed his mental toughness, physical strength and excellent energy reserves to power through 240 minutes across the two fixtures in the space of just three days.
The former Leicester City academy product, who arrived at Ibrox for a compensation fee of just £230,000 two years ago, possesses a lot of the same attributes as Liverpool’s £75million rated centre-half.
Quick, strong and comfortable on the ball, Bassey has everything you’d want from a modern-day defender and Berra reckons he could be as good as former Celtic and Dutch star Van Dijk.
Speaking on BBC Sportsound, Berra said: “He’s a man mountain. No-one gets past him.
“I know this is holding him in high regard but he could be the next Van Dijk type figure to come out of Scotland.
“He’s got that potential, physically, he’s aggressive, he’s technically good on the ball.
“He’s powerful, he can dribbler, and he’s got that flexibility where he can play left-back or centre-back.”
Former Rangers striker Kenny Miller insists Bassey is now worth a whopping £20million after back-to-back man of the match performances against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville and against Hearts just 72 hours later at Hampden Park.
As a result, English Premier League clubs are keeping tabs on his progress, with Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa favourites to land him this summer.
Wolves, Fulham and Brentford have also reportedly been impressed but Miller believes his former club won’t be prepared to let him leave on the cheap.
Bassey was seemingly unaffected by speculation following their Scottish Cup triumph, marking the 66th and final game of a memorable campaign for the Gers.
He told Premier Sports: “I just want to keep my head dow and keep pushing hard.
“I’m focused here. I’m here and I’m ready to get ready to come here for pre-season and be fitter than I was last pre-season and ready to see what next season holds for me and the boys.”
Rangers are bracing themselves for bids in the coming weeks but Miller is adamant it will take a record-breaking offer for club officials to sell Bassey.
Nathan Patterson’s £12 million switch to Everton in January is the biggest fee the Light Blues have received for a player.
Miller said: “The Rangers fans know it. And Gio van Bronckhorst knows it. (Saturday) at Hampden Park only rubber-stamped it.
“After his outstanding performance in the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts, Calvin Bassey is going to attract BIG transfer bids this summer.
“I know the supporters might not want to hear that, especially in the aftermath of lifting a trophy, but there’s no getting away from it.
“This kid has gone absolutely through the roof. He’s been given an opportunity to play and he’s grabbed it with both hands.
“There WILL be bids to either accept or knock back for Bassey because his performances have propelled him into a position where clubs – and I’m talking big clubs – will come in for this kid.
“I’ve heard Giovanni talking about how he’d love to continue working and developing him, but what I took from that is the manager knows there will be interest. He knows what’s coming.
“Even if Rangers manage to extend Bassey’s current deal, I don’t think that’s going to deter the type of teams who are interested.
“What it might do is get the club more money for him because for me, Bassey is now a £20million player. That’s what clubs are going to have to pay for him.
“He can play in the English Premier League, there’s no doubt about that now. No-one would disagree after watching his recent performances.
“So can Rangers keep him? If they can’t, they need to make sure they get top dollar. Whether that’s £15m, £20m or £25m, they need to hold out for it –because he’s worth it.
“His career is on such an upward trajectory at the moment that clubs will come calling.”