Nathan Patterson – Rangers’ Breakout Youngster Set To Make His Name On The International Stage by Euan Milligan
In a near unbeatable Rangers squad during the 2020/21 season, one young right-back still managed to force his way through, grabbing the opportunity through James Tavernier’s injury and making a mark in his limited time on the field- Nathan Patterson. Those familiar with Scottish football will have heard the name multiple times by now whether it’s through Premier League bidders or his recent appearances for Scotland, but how has Patterson gone from under 21 regular to Rangers starlet in one calendar year?
Fast and tenacious, Patterson tends to hold the width for Rangers, hugging the touchline as he bombs up and down the wing. Due to this Patterson often overlaps and is used as a decoy as well as an option for a one-two. However, in his more advanced role for Scotland, this differs with Patterson able to cut inside or create an underlap as shown in his goal against Moldova below.
This difference in playstyle shows the 20-year-old’s versatility which was seen against Dundee United at Ibrox this season as Patterson lined up at left-back.
Nathan Patterson experienced his breakthrough under now former Rangers boss, Steven Gerrard. Despite being caught breaking Covid rules in the early stages of 2021 (resulting in some suggesting his contract should be terminated) Gerrard gave him a chance with regular Tavernier finding himself injured throughout February. In a gamble, Gerrard had to balance disciplinary issues with maintaining the quality of the team- something that would pay off.
Patterson would score a mere 19 seconds after coming on against Royal Antwerp in the Europa League knockout stages. This would precede a spell of games in the league as the Rangers captain nursed his injury. Patterson’s spell in the team would see him face an Old Firm and challenges such as Slavia Prague where he showed his grit and defensive stability to match his galloping runs forward.
Patterson won 66% of his duels and completed 57% of his dribbles in the Premiership last campaign however his crossing left a lot to be desired. This has been worked on by the ever-improving fullback, shown by his pinpoint assist against Hibernian in the league this season as Patterson transitions from a raw talent to a more complete and technical player.
When looking at him statistically in the 2021/22 season, Patterson can be a mixed bag with his lack of game time skewing the numbers in comparison to others. Patterson has only had two starts at Rangers due to being behind club captain James Tavernier in the right-back pecking order so to get the best idea, this article will look to his World Cup Qualifying campaign with Scotland where his four starts in qualifying give a far more balanced idea when comparing.
Nobody in the Scotland squad averaged more tackles per game than Nathan Patterson, providing proof of that previously mentioned tenacity. The breakout Scot isn’t bad going forward either with his 0.8 key passes per game only 0.1 less than captain and highly rated left-back Andrew Robertson, a player who is regarded as one of Steve Clarke’s key men in the final third.
So what’s next for Nathan Patterson? According to The Guardian, Everton are set to make a third bid for the right-back having failed with their £9 million strong attempt in the summer however as is usually the case with young players there is still a lot to be seen of Patterson. The Scot will now have to face the dilemma of risking the cut-throat Premier League at his young age with the possibility of ending up at the very top or waiting for the departure of current Rangers right-back Tavernier and becoming a star at his boyhood club. Whatever happens, the future is bright for Nathan Patterson.