Photo: David Crawford
After signing from Motherwell at just 15 years of age, holding midfielder Bailey Rice made his debut for Rangers’ first team in a visit to Livingston in late February, becoming the club’s youngest-ever player to partake in a league match.
Coming onto the pitch in the dying embers in place of Glen Kamara, Rice did not get much opportunity to show his prodigious potential. However, the fact he even got on the pitch does display how he is a star in the making.
For his tender age, Rice has achieved a vast amount in football. The youngster has represented Scotland up to U17 level and played in every one of Rangers’ UEFA Youth League games in 2022/23. Moreover, Rice has had further experience at a high level despite not even being able to legally drive a car, making 13 appearances for Rangers B in the Lowland League this campaign, netting twice and assisting once in the process.
A versatile young player, Rice’s predominant position lies in defensive midfield yet he is also able to operate at central defence or even left back. This adaptability will only serve him well as he goes on in his career. When signing for Rangers last summer, Celtic, along with several sides from the Premier League, were interested in Rice’s services although the Scot opted to join the club he supported as a boy.
It is fair to say the move to Rangers has paid off for the 16-year-old thus far with him gaining vital first-team minutes, however little they may be. It is likely Rice would not have got this had he moved down south.
What made Rice’s Rangers senior debut even more impressive was the fact that less than 24 hours prior, he captained Scotland’s U17s to a thumping 7-0 win over Switzerland in Spain. Following the game, the midfielder jetted back into Scotland to make his professional football debut and complete a weekend any boy of his age would dream of.
Rice undeniably has a wealth of talent and in terms of play style, the midfielder likes to sit the deepest of a midfield trio and attempt to dictate the play with his first-class vision, passing and awareness. He could improve on his pace, but the youngster makes up for this lack of speed in terms of recovery when he utilises his optimal positional awareness. Rice is intelligent tactically and undoubtedly a resilient and consistent young man. This perseverance was shown the weekend in which he made his Rangers debut.
It is fair to say that Bailey Rice is one of the brightest prospects in Scottish football at the minute. The youngest ever player to represent Rangers in a league match, it is early days for him as of now although as the years go on and he is given more and more experience, Rice could turn into a key asset for both his club and the Scotland national team.
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