Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is concerned he could end up losing club captain James Tavernier in the upcoming transfer window, as reported by The Scottish Sun.
The Ibrox boss will know as well as anyone that the next few months will likely end up defining the coming season for Rangers.
Recruitment is absolutely key both in terms of incoming talent and retaining the core of their squad. If the decision makers at the club don’t get it right then they have no chance of catching Celtic in the Scottish Premiership again.
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For Gerrard, one of the big concerns is the club’s ability to retain the services of right-back and captain Tavernier, admitting that every player has his price if buying teams want him badly enough.
He opened up on the issue this weekend, telling The Scottish Sun:
Whenever a transfer window opens, there’s interest in Tav. He has been so consistent and, for me as a manager, he’s been there for every game and every training session. It’s been me who’s pulled him away from it at times. If I didn’t he’d have played in every game.
He’s got the body and capacity for any league out there. In saying all of that, I want him in this league and in my team.
There have been calls about Tav with clubs interested. I am sure there still is. We’ve got a fantastic captain/manager relationship. We know his agent very well and, as with any player, I’m open to these chats at any time.
The reality is, and I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but every player has his price.
Every manager up and down the UK has the same issues. But I can’t be any clearer, I want my best players to stay at Rangers and Tav certainly comes into that bracket.
Clearly Gerrard is expecting more interest in the player ahead of the 2019/20 season, but Rangers must resist the temptation to sell him for at least one more season because losing him could mean kissing goodbye to major honours again next term.
Tavernier only has Jon Flanagan and Matt Polster as back-up currently, neither of whom are viable reliable replacements for what Tavernier offers his team. Flanagan’s form has been inconsistent since joining last summer and Polster is entirely untested.
With 17 goals and 20 assists throughout 2018/19, the attacking efforts of Tavernier from right-back are unparalleled in Scottish football and losing that direct contribution would clearly impact on the amount of points Rangers win in the league next term.
Even if he is sold for decent money, finding a quality replacement in the position would be exceptionally difficult when entering the transfer market. It’s a notoriously difficult area of the park to recruit in, as evidenced by Celtic’s recent problems.
The only option Rangers have is to keep him, with this upcoming season crucially important for the Gerrard project. If a trophy or two is won then it could be time to cash in and usher in a new era, but this is a team still on the up and losing their captain would be a major setback.