Rangers‘ recruitment record has come under scrutiny of late with sporting director Ross Wilson having failed to adequately strengthen the Ibrox outfit with quality additions, although the transfer chief seemingly played a blinder with regards to one missed opportunity over the summer.
Former Gers man Craig Moore revealed back in July that he had pushed the club to sign current Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy prior to the Australian’s move to Parkhead, while pundit Alex McLeish also suggested at the time he had “heard whispers” regarding the club’s interest in the player.
That inability to land the 31-year-old ahead of their Old Firm rivals had looked like something of a blow for Wilson and co at the time, with the playmaker having previously impressed during his time in the Premier League with both Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town, with former Terriers boss David Wagner lauding him as a “top-class player” a few years ago.
Managing to secure that free transfer had appeared a real masterstroke for Ange Postecoglou’s side, although just a few months into the season and the 53-cap gem has struggled to make his mark in his new surroundings, making just two starts in all competitions thus far, including one in the League Cup triumph over Ross County.
The £4.5m-rated man’s only Scottish Premiership start saw him distinctly underwhelm in the Hoops’ defeat away to St Mirren prior to the recent international break, having been hauled off at half-time after seemingly being bullied by a physical Buddies outfit, as he failed to win a single duel in that 45-minute outing.
Former Bhoys midfielder Stiliyan Petrov notably criticised the 5 foot 9 dud for his role in the home side’s opener after failing to track his man, stating: “The attitude when you don’t play regularly, Aaron Mooy, that was his man.
“If he doesn’t usually play, he isn’t on the field all the time, then you get sloppier. You don’t track runners, you do the right things you do, especially off the ball.”
Pundit Charlie Nicholas was equally as critical as he suggested that the one-time Bolton Wanderers man has struggled to get up to speed, writing that:
‘I also feel that every time Aaron Mooy has come into the side he looks a yard off the pace. He needs more minutes and a run of matches but I’m not sure he’s going to get them.’
To compound matters, Mooy – who has been unable to provide a goal contribution in 11 appearances in all competitions this term – is currently out of action due to injury, with his capture already looking like a potential mistake for those at Celtic Park.
As such, it may well have been a bullet dodged for Rangers, with the Glasgow side avoiding a repeat of their signing of another “technical” asset – as described by Amiens sporting director John Williams – in Bongani Zungu, with the South African also failing to make his mark in Scottish football.
The 29-cap midfielder had joined on loan from Amiens in October 2020, with the aforementioned Williams suggesting that the club were getting something of a “bargain” at the time, such was his quality.
Much like with the case of Mooy, however, the 6-foot machine was unable to make an impact during his solitary season in Scotland, making only 20 appearances and also failing to provide a single goal contribution under Steven Gerrard.
Zungu appeared to struggle to get up to speed in his new surroundings, with his woes notably seeing him win just 43% of his total duels in 14 league games, having never truly showcased his potential talent.
Throwing another creative asset such as Mooy into the engine room at Ibrox could have seen a similar scenario occur, with the club arguably thankful not to have won the race for his services.