Emerson Hyndman’s Rangers starting debut will be one he’ll never forget.
It was an introduction which had the Light Blue legions raving about the prospect, who is on loan until the end of the season.
The 20-year-old American played a key part in Kenny Miller’s opener. A slick one-two followed by a defence splitting pass saw Lee Wallace square for Miller to tap in. Hyndman then capped off an emphatic performance with a well-taken strike from near the penalty spot.
It's been a good Saturday for one American Abroad: Emerson Hyndman scored his first goal for Rangers vs. Motherwell. pic.twitter.com/luXV75AV6R
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) January 28, 2017
I’ve merely seen around 100 competitive minutes of Hyndman in a blue jersey and maybe I’m getting a bit carried away with how highly I rate him. He looks absolute class.
It begs the question – why aren’t Rangers producing players of this nature on a regular basis?
Hyndman comes on loan from Bournemouth, and admits himself he’s using his loan spell to break into their first team. Yes, you read that correctly, a Bournemouth player is using Rangers as a stepping stone.
Demeaning to our great club? Maybe. In truth, it should be a wake-up call. We need to sort out the structure of our youth set up. We don’t need tweaks – we need transformation. I won’t sit here and tell you that we’ll churn out teenage superstars overnight at Auchinhowie. Far from it. But identifying talent is where the rebuilding must begin.
Take Hyndman for example. Fulham picked him up on a free from American side FC Dallas and he’s since moved to Bournemouth. I don’t think for one second the midfielder moved to Fulham for money. He wanted opportunities. It gets you scratching your head – why aren’t Rangers searching for the next young star across the pond?
Does this come down to our scouting network? Possibly. Going by our transfer activity of the last 18 months, the current scouting framework only stretches as far as the borders of Great Britain. We must look further afield and the United States is where Rangers should start. I’d be stunned if there wasn’t a Claudio Reyna-type figure – someone who knew the US Men’s National Youth Team set up – that wouldn’t assume a role in the US on behalf of Rangers
Elsewhere, Borrussia Dortmund have exploited this market to great effect. At just 18, Christian Pulisic is tearing it up in the Bundesliga after becoming the youngest ever player to score a brace in the German top flight, and the USMNT. His background is similar to that of Gedion Zelalem; both were picked up on a free from US Soccer Development Teams (PA Classics and Olney Rangers) and decided to pursue their futures with two of Europe’s biggest teams.
These are the type of players the Gers must go all out to get their hands on – young talent with the potential to progress and command a heavy fee. I know we aren’t awash with cash at Ibrox right now. However widening our reach in the scouting department is a must. So is using our world-class training facility to give tomorrow’s stars, Scottish or not, the platform to take Rangers to the next level.
Ultimately, that is what most of us crave.