Many people were sceptical about about Pedro Caixinha’s summer transfer policy. He signed eleven players and let another eleven leave the club, raising questions of whether he was doing too much, too soon. So far though you’d have to say that the signs are positive with the majority of his signings fitting into the first team well.
Not all of them have been smash hits of course, both Eduardo Herrera and Dalcio have done little in a Light Blues shirt so far and Carlos Pena still has plenty to prove despite his double against St Johnstone on Friday night.
For the most part, Rangers appear to have recruited very well and along with an up turn in their league form, have a great chance of reaching a national cup final this weekend when they face Motherwell, something they didn’t manage last season.
Perhaps the most impressive of all the summer arrivals has been Alfredo Morelos, a little known striker from Colombian who didn’t garner too much excitement when he joined in June. With Rangers making headlines signing up established talent like Bruno Alves and Graham Dorrans, it was easy to gloss over his signing before he started getting regular appearances.
Since then, he’s battered in an impressive eight goals in 11 appearances in the Scottish Premiership and Scottish League Cup, which has created a bit of hype about what he can go onto achieve this season. His form has even alerted clubs from the English Championship with Aston Villa reported to have sent scouts to tracks his progress last Friday night, with Rangers expecting bids in the January transfer window.
It’s vitally important though that Rangers resist the temptation to cash in on the 21-year-old and retain his talent, or risk seeing any potential progress this season disappear without trace.
The truth is that Alfredo Morelos’ impact on the Rangers team was predictable given his career so far. He’s a young player with significant potential who, after taking the brave step to move from South America to Europe via an non-traditional route, is now on the rise.
He took the unusual step of leaving Colombia for Finland in 2016, joining HJK Helsinki. It’s common for South American players to leave their homes to make a name for themselves in European football, but you usually see them head to Spain or Portugal where the culture and language is closer to home. It’s far less common to see them end up in Scandinavia, but it was a decision that has paid off.
He made an instant impression in Finland, scoring 30 goals in 2016 in all competitions including four in UEFA competition. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, he went on to up his strike rate in 2017, starting the new Finnish season by scoring an incredible 16 goals in just 19 appearances. It was this form that generated the interest from abroad and Rangers wasted no time in securing his signature halfway through Helsinki’s summer season.
His tally combined over the last 18 months then is 54 goals in 75 appearances, a scoring rate that any striker would be envious of, at any level. With another 13 assists in that time, all for Helsinki, it’s clear he’s a player that thrives on seeing the ball hit the back of the net.
If Rangers do receive bids for him in January, then cashing in and giving up that kind of strike rate so soon into his Ibrox career would be criminal.
Pedro Caixinha has been tasked with taking Rangers to the top of Scottish football, at the expense of the talented Aberdeen and the dominating Celtic. There have been missteps along the way, most notably against Progress Niederkorn, but you’d back Rangers to finish with more points and compete better this season than they did last season. As noted, there’s even the significant chance of reaching a cup final by the turn of the year, which would be a huge boost to Caixinha’s credibility.
If they’re to do this, they simply need Morelos in the team. Even selling him next summer seems foolish, if he can keep up his current form. Selling him mid-season though could deliver a critical blow to any ambitions they have short-term and long-term.
Rangers aren’t exactly blessed with excellent striking alternatives with Eduardo Herrera making just one start since joining the club and Kenny Miller both out of form and out of favour with manager Pedro Caixinha.
Morelos’ contribution is a winning one and while selling him in the future may end up an inevitable outcome if he continues his quick rise, it’s simply too soon to entertain the notion.