Two years ago, Leicester allowed Calvin Bassey to leave on a free and he hasn’t looked back ever since
On Saturday, Italian transfer guru, Fabrizio Romano confirmed that a €22m move to Ajax is close to completion for Bassey.
This move must be a jarring news to the Rangers faithful as he’s young and has some huge potential and upside. The Scottish club are however a factory at best, especially when bigger clubs prowl. There is not so much weight behind their level to keep players highly regarded and of significant interest in Europe.
Bassey’s run in the Europa League last season was the golden run for the defender. He played as a central defender solidly and successfully, proving a behemoth in most games, hardly-beaten, calculating, fast and aware. As a left back or left wing-back, he also showed enough weaponry to give Rangers enough options to dance with.
Ajax sale of Lisandro Martinez to Manchester United leaves a gaping hole as the Argentine is one of the most solid players in the team. Bassey, in all his elements and strengths, present a like-for-like replacement in abilities and strengths.
Martinez can also play as a centre back where he flourished last season and as a left back or wing back. His impressive range of passing created a good number of situations for the Dutch champions last season.
Bassey, at 22, is close to that player. His passing range has consistently improved and as a left back, his surging run, incredible physicality and awareness are core strengths. It’s not common to have such instant replacements out of the locker in one player and Ajax must be credited for digging deep.
In terms of style, Bassey has proven he can fit into a number of systems and his adaptability is impressive.
While there are weaknesses to his game, his recovery sandpapers those moments of slip-ups.
Ajax is a perfect place to brush this character into a world beater, and coming from a different school of football – the British school means he has new modules to cover. He has proven he can adapt when patiently handled and he will at Ajax and if he moves in the future, will also adapt outside the Dutch system.
A win for the believers
There were games last season where Bassey got sticks from Rangers fans but once he settled to the team, he was one of the star legs.
When Steven Gerrard took the player to Scotland in 2020, many Gers fans must have cringed at what his plans were and an uninteresting first season, despite Rangers domestic success would have heaped a lot of questions.
More than the manager could answer, the player needed his own response and it came in part under the Aston Villa manager.
Stars would align for Bassey when former Dutch national team captain Giovani Van Bronckhorst was announced as Rangers manager. It was the element he needed in his growth and there was a thrust of trust in his abilities and potential.
The Bassey the world saw under Van Bronckhorst was almost unplayable on his day and a lot of credit must go to the Dutchman.
With the Super Eagles, he has risen in leaps and bounds and has bounced back from his struggles against Ghana at the World Cup qualifiers.
Every ounce of confidence shown in Bassey has been repaid with the biggest and probably best move made by any Nigerian so far in this transfer window.
Ajax do not only tick every box in terms of size and prestige, they offer a football education and legacy that’s an interesting prospect for a player of incredible ability and potential.
Should Bassey show anything near what he has proven to have in the bag at Ajax, then the future summers have more sunny days.