If there’s one common thread running through all of Michael Beale’s transfer business at Rangers it’s versatility.

Sam Lammers is a No.9 who can fill the No.10 void with ease, Abdallah Sima can score or create from the right, both Nico Raskin and Todd Cantwell are capable of occupying a variety of midfield roles. There are few cases of players only comfortable playing one specific position on the pitch.

“Players who don’t always play in one position, it gives you more options. We look for that in players, those hybrid qualities and it benefits us,” Beale said speaking on the topic back in February.

Hybrid options present variation from game to game but, perhaps more importantly, within it too. On Saturday in a 2-1 friendly win over Hamburg, we saw Kieran Dowell impress with an industrious midfield performance featuring a line-breaking pass or two, despite arriving with the reputation of an attacking midfielder. Ianis Hagi started as a No.8, despite playing most of his career higher up the pitch.

Ridvan Yilmaz may not be the first player that comes to mind when this hybrid topic is raised, and in one sense he is not. The 22-year-old isn’t going to start a match in the centre of defence or midfield. However, although Ridvan’s starting position at left-back is unlikely to change, the areas of the pitch he assumes from that left side vary constantly during matches. And that "gives you more options".

Perhaps rather than thinking in binary positions which rarely exist in modern football, i.e. a centre-midfielder only occupies the centre and full-back only occupies wide areas, we should instead think about the varying zones a player might occupy to understand their role.

That’s a view held by Lee Carsley, the England Under-21 boss who recently led his side to the European Championship title who talks about "roles not positions". 

 “We try and not be too restrictive on playing in a certain position, it’s more the role and the responsibility in the area of the pitch they’re in. As opposed to seeing them in positions, have they got the profile and attributes (we want)?”

Watching Rangers’ win over Hamburg the different “areas” of the pitch the Turkish left-back was comfortable operating in became apparent. 

Here early on, with the hosts overloading the right-hand side and Hamburg committing similar numbers in response, Ridvan recognises there’s an opportunity to maximise the width on the far side of the pitch. A fantastic Dowell ball finds his run with Hagi unable to convert a back post cross.

Here, as Rangers look to quickly transition forwards, Ridvan realises that an underlapping run through the centre of the pitch, with Rabbi Matondo pulling into the wide lane, offers the best chance of progression.

We saw flashes of this ability to invert last season under Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

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Perhaps most impressively, the full-back also demonstrated his ability to pass inside the pitch under pressure, here wrapping a ball into the feet of Hagi (circled in white) to enable a quick move through the thirds.

Why does this matter? Teams so often press full-backs intensely because the touchline is so close and already limiting the ball carrier’s options. If a full-back can, like Ridvan, not only play up the line but also pass or carry the ball infield, a dangerous pressing moment can turn into a promising attacking opportunity for the team in possession. The more ‘angles’ you can play at, meaning Ridvan is able to comfortably progress the ball vertically from left-back alongside looking up the line, the more opportunities you provide.

Ridvan is not the pinpoint crosser that Borna Barisic is, but Beale’s Rangers are far less reliant on deliveries from deep than the 20/21 iteration of this side. Clearly, this is a team being built with functional aspects and a fair share of athleticism, but the option of a combiner at left-back in Ridvan suits the overall picture.

The former Besiktas man has qualities that make him an effective attacking left-back in isolation, with pace, a desire to always play forward when possible and a good final ball. Alongside that, his ability to occupy different areas of the pitch provides more solutions for his side.

Last summer, he was the club’s big-money signing. It took months for a substantial opportunity in the first team to arrive and when it did, a hamstring tear followed. Now, with a full pre-season behind him, you sense that Ridvan’s ready to really kick on at Rangers and demonstrate why so much excitement followed that initial arrival.