Jermain Defoe has signed for Rangers, but his arrival at Ibrox will change the way Steven Gerrard’s side operates.
It was confirmed on Sunday that former Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland star striker Defoe would join Rangers on an 18-month loan deal, prematurely ending his stint with AFC Bournemouth unless the Cherries operate one of their recall options.
The 57-cap former England international had joined Eddie Howe on the English south coast in 2017, but his instant return to the Premier League from the Black Cats upon their relegation only resulted in four goals and two assists in a total 34 appearances.
Now 36, infrequent appearances from the bench – of which there have only been four so far this season – is not enough for the 5 foot 7 forward, who will be aiming to help Rangers clinch a first Scottish Premiership title in eight years.
However, the arrival of another eyebrow-raising striker to join Alfredo Morelos presents Gerrard with tactical challenges to overcome, mainly what formation is best to use when he has previously favoured one-up-top.
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Since the former Liverpool captain was named as Rangers boss, Gerrard has favoured formations that utilise a single striker – often Morelos – but that will prove a challenge with Defoe on the wage bill.
Throughout the former England international’s career, Defoe has never fared best when deployed as a solo striker, most famously creating a striking partnership with Peter Crouch in a very contrasting one-big, one-small dynamic duo for club and country.
If the on-loan Cherry is to succeed at Ibrox, Gerrard must alter his tactics to a 4-2-2-2 or at least 4-4-2 rather than his recently favoured 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1, leaving doubts over the inclusion of midfielders Scott Arfield, Lassana Coulibaly, Ross McCrorie and Ryan Jack.
The future of Morelos continues to be in doubt, despite reports suggesting Rangers will not sell the striker in January, and his services will have to be retained for Defoe to thrive in Scotland.
The Colombian is the league’s top goalscorer with 12 strikes from 19 games, but his ability on the ball will attract defenders towards him rather than Defoe, creating the pockets of space for the 5 foot 7 striker to thrive in when not peeling off the last man.