Brandon Barker struggled to nail down a spot at Preston, so a similar situation with Rangers maybe shouldn’t be a surprise.
North End struck a deal to take Barker on loan last summer, signing him from Manchester City alongside Lukas Nmecha. A player once tipped for a huge future, Barker had somewhat lost his way.
Loan spells with NAC Breda and Hibernian hadn’t really helped, so impressing at Preston was a last-ditch requirement to forge a future at City.
Sadly, that didn’t really happen. He showed flashes of his quality, but was too often let down by injury problems. His end product wasn’t ideal, nor was his tracking back – which is key under Alex Neil.
Still, Neil seemingly looked at keeping him. The Sun’s Alan Nixon claimed that Preston wanted Barker back, and the LEP backed that up. That report suggested City would only sell Barker, and Preston wouldn’t pay what they wanted.
In the end, Barker made a surprise move to Rangers. Director of football Mark Allen knew Barker from their time together at City, and moved to sign him on a permanent basis.
Barker will be hoping to really kick on at Ibrox, but it’s fair to say that he’s already in a strange situation with the Gers.
Firstly, Barker is – unsurprisingly to many – already injured. Before the international break, Barker limped out of a development squad match and wasn’t in the squad to face Celtic just days later.
Then, just days after that injury, Rangers went and signed yet another winger. Rangers paid up to £7.5million to sign Liverpol’s Ryan Kent (Sky Sports), immediately pushing Barker down the pecking order.
Rangers now have Jordan Jones, Kent, Barker and Scott Arfield down the left, as well as Sheyi Ojo and Greg Stewart, who can also play there if needed. Having initially been seen as a signing because Rangers couldn’t sign Kent, Barker is now sat behind him, and will have to wait for his chance as a result of Kent’s return and his own injury.
It doesn’t appear to be an ideal situation for the 22-year-old, but he is at least in Rangers’ Europa League squad. Hopefully it all works out for him, but Barker’s situation already seems strange after just a year at Ibrox.