You have to be careful when throwing around superlatives about football players. What makes a player a great, for instance? Or a legend? For each club, the bar is set at a different level.

At Rangers, the bar is high. And arguably difficult for any player in the present era to attain, given that it was set at a time when the Ibrox club enjoyed success on the field and financial advantage off it far beyond their current capability.

It isn’t difficult to spot the subtext here. In a week where captain James Tavernier has addressed reports linking him with a move to Saudi Arabia and a potential reunion with former Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, the debate has been reignited over the Ibrox captain’s legacy at the club.

READ MORE: Tavernier in Rangers testimonial talks amid Saudi links

Not only that, his revelation as he was nominated for the PFA Scotland player of the year award that he is in talks with the club’s hierarchy over a possible testimonial next season – he is now in his ninth year at Ibrox – has prompted reflections on whether Rangers should be entertaining the notion of keeping him around for a bit longer.

Tavernier is now 32. He has two years left on a lucrative contract. Not lucrative in relation to what he could be earning if he takes the Saudi coin this summer, but in relative terms.

His contribution to this Rangers team, at least on paper, is beyond dispute. He has 17 league goals from right back (yes, I know, more than a few were penalties...) and nine assists this season alone, the last of which was a peach of a cross to set up the crucial winner for Cyriel Dessers against St Mirren at the weekend.

Defensively though, despite improvements over the years, the jury remains out. His perceived status as a weak link at the back has dogged him throughout his Rangers career, and there is a sizeable camp within the support who argue a more conventional right back would bring greater balance to the side.

It is in his role as captain though and in his performance as the leader of the team, rather than in his ability as a player, that most disagreement can be found.

After every defeat or poor result, the focus is on Tavernier. His role is scrutinised forensically. He is wheeled out in front of the cameras - invariably with a hangdog expression to make Droopy look like a cheery wee soul by comparison – to say how disappointed he is.

His contribution as a leader is often measured in his demeanour. He doesn’t snarl enough at his teammates. When the chips are down, why isn’t he shouting at everyone to get them going?

An ability to motivate those around him is a prerequisite for a captain, but it is a difficult thing to quantify. When teams are doing well with more reserved characters like Tavernier wearing the armband, we often hear that the captain of that team ‘leads by example’. When they lose, they are ‘too quiet’.

Who knows what his influence is behind the scenes? The only reliable gauge we have on that are the public testimonials from his various managers and teammates.

“All the players are really proud of him, all the staff and the fans and everybody involved with Rangers. It’s really quite exceptional,” said current boss Philippe Clement after Tavernier recently became the highest scoring British defender of all time.

Gerrard, the former Liverpool skipper and the man who handed him the Ibrox armband in the first place, once said: “James knows what I think of him. It was a big decision to make him captain of this football club.

“I noticed when I walked in that he is a leader and a very likeable guy in the dressing room. People respect him.

“He has been through a lot of turbulence in his time at the club but handled it very well. That’s the reason I gave him the armband.”

“This football club won’t appreciate James Tavernier until James Tavernier’s not here,” said Connor Goldson – himself now attracting a fair bit of stick - after Tavernier hit the winning goal in this season’s Viaplay Cup Final.

Internally, then, he is respected as a leader and judged upon what he brings to the club on a daily basis. Externally though, the judgment of Tavernier seems to primarily be on his trophy haul, or the lack of one.

He has been labelled as a bottler. A serial loser. Mentally weak. Is that fair, though?

Just as the successes he has been a part of – his inspirational form in the run to the Europa League Final, winning ‘55’ (or more importantly, ‘stopping the 10’), stepping up with big goals like that winner at Hampden against Aberdeen in December for example – have not been down to him alone, neither surely have the occasions when Rangers have fallen short.

READ MORE: Rangers captain James Tavernier targets victories in 'six cup finals'

In Scotland though, success has many fathers and failure falls on the shoulders of the few. Managers have paid for the paltry silverware return in relative terms over Tavernier’s time at the club with their jobs, and the captain has taken a huge amount of flak whenever Rangers have failed to get over the line.

The truth is that Tavernier has been a very good Rangers player in what have mostly been mediocre Rangers teams. He has often been surrounded by teammates who have simply not been good enough to challenge the dominance of Celtic over the past decade. And yet his personal contribution has rarely wavered.

No amount of snarling at a Philippe Senderos, geeing up a Joey Barton or rollicking a Jordan Rossiter was ever going to make those players good enough to truly compete with their often far stronger city rivals over that period.

If his long association with Rangers is to end this summer, then - and a case can certainly be made for freshening things up – what is his legacy to be?

History, I feel, will see Rangers fans judge him kindly as a player. To be considered a legend, or a ‘great’ captain though, he may well have to hoist both the league trophy and Scottish Cup above his head by the end of the season.