THE TOPIC of Steven Gerrard’s best Rangers signing would spark a debate.
Allan McGregor and Steven Davis on frees take some topping, and Glen Kamara was a steal at £50,000.
Joe Aribo was snatched for cross-border compensation, while Connor Goldson and Ryan Kent have justified the millions spent to land them.
But Borna Barisic’s mentor Alen Petrovic reckons the £2m Rangers paid Osijek for the left-back was inspired business.
And the Croatian club’s former sporting director says the Ibrox side could now make a massive profit if they wanted to cash in after this summer’s Euros.
: “We played against Rangers in the Europa League and we were disappointed to get knocked out.
“But Steven Gerrard saw how good Borna was over those two games.
“We did a deal and Borna has shown that his manager was right. He has been a fantastic player for Rangers.
“He is now ready for a higher level. He could play in the English Premier League no problem.
“I am 100 percent sure of that.
“He is Croatia’s No 1 left-back and they are a national team ranked as one of the world’s best.
“Borna is doing extremely well at a very good club and football people will know all about him.
“He has had a great season, with many good performances, assists and free-kicks.
"There will be a lot of clubs watching him at the Euros. What happens then is up to them.
“But I would say that probably all the big clubs in the top leagues know about him already.”
Barisic was tipped for stardom from his early days in the Osijek youth set-up and was in the first team at 20.
He then landed a dream move to Dinamo Zagreb in 2015 — but failed to make his mark in the capital.
Petrovic kept an eye on his progress and didn’t hesitate when he had the chance to re-sign him after a year.
That was a crucial moment for Barisic, who kick-started his career and then won a Croatia call-up after six months.
He never looked back from there and Rangers jumped at the chance to sign him after he impressed in those Europa League qualifiers.
Petrovic said: “I have known Borna since he was a young teenager and I always believed in him.
“We come from the same town and he signed with Osijek and you could see his potential.
“Borna was getting attention and he signed for Dinamo Zagreb but didn’t play much.
“Then he had a loan at Lokomotiva.
"For me, one of the defining moments in Borna's career was when he left Dinamo and decided to come back to Osijek. He had to start again.
"It was a second chance for him to show what he could do and he took it.
“He showed even greater quality and that was the moment where his career really took off.
"We took him back to Osijek in 2016 and, after that, he went from strength to strength.
“He was fantastic for us and then he went to Glasgow and has done so well for Rangers.
“Borna is stable but also very ambitious and that’s why he went to Rangers.
“We are all proud of his achievements and I think we all did a good job with him at Osijek.”
Barisic took a season to fully settle at Ibrox but is now one of Gerrard’s go-to players.
The Croatian has been a model of consistency at left-back and has also weighed in with crucial goals and his assists.
His set-piece delivery is up there with the best but Petrovic insists Barisic has had to work very hard for his success.
The 28-year-old has had plenty of knocks along the way but has always come out fighting. Petrovic is proud at how far his star pupil has come.
He said: “A coach can always rely on Borna but a first season at a new club in a different country will always be difficult.
“People need to adapt and Rangers had to be patient with him.
“Borna needed some time to settle down and show his qualities but I knew that he would.
“He is a fighter and a winner. That is inside him.
“Borna will always look for more and more from himself and the club.
“I knew he would do well at Rangers.
“I have spoken to him since Rangers won the league and he was very proud of the achievement.
“It was a big moment for him and it was news all across Europe because it had been a long time since Rangers won the championship.
“Borna is professional. He’s a top player and has done so well at Rangers.”