Opinion: Rangers are taking a major risk in the January transfer window as things stand
Rangers are running the risk of standing still in a hugely significant season.
This seasons winner of the Scottish Premiership receives automatic qualification to the Champions League.
Rangers’ brilliant displays in Europe under Steven Gerrard and the national side’s recent turn in fortune has given Scotland’s coefficient a massive boost.
The Champion’s League is the holy grail for the Old Firm.
Typically, clubs playing in smaller nations must play several qualifiers before even reaching the playoff round of qualification.
Of course, neither team is equipped to win the tournament but the riches that come with qualifying are astronomical.
Rangers currently sit top of the pile in Scotland, with a four-point gap over Celtic.
Celtic’s transfer business
Celtic have wasted millions on ‘duds’ in the last couple of seasons. Klimala, Bolingoli, Ajeti, Barkas, Soro, El Hamed, all came in under Lennon in the last two seasons for large fees.
All of them have either departed or are surplus to requirements. However, Celtic have received large fees for the likes of Edouard, Ajer, and Tierney.
Celtic gambled in appointing an unknown manager in Ange Postecoglou and have backed him financially, to close the gap on Rangers.
The former J-League manager has raided Japan to bring in several players, with Kyogo looking to be a good signing for them.
Celtic have signed five players in the January transfer window and fans have praised their manager’s philosophy and claimed they were back.
It is up for debate whether they have improved, but the fact remains, four points at the top of the table is a slender lead.
Rangers transfer business
Rangers have signed two players in the January transfer window.
John Souttar has signed a pre-contract deal to join in the summer.
James Sands also signed, joining on an initial 18-month loan from MLS outfit NYCFC, where he was named ‘young player of the season’.
Nevertheless, this only really addresses the issue of centre-back.
With Helander and Balogun returning from injury it is likely neither new recruits would see a start alongside Connor Goldson.
Goldson and Balogun’s contracts are both expiring in the summer, these signings look to aid in that respect, but Rangers require signings for the here and now.
Rangers need a traditional right-winger
The right side of the attack has been neglected for a few seasons now.
Steven Gerrard often deployed Joe Aribo, Ianis Hagi, or Kemar Roofe on the right side of a 4–3–3.
However, despite playing well anywhere, Joe Aribo best position is in the number ten role, in the centre.
Ianis Hagi has failed to find consistency but his best position is also as a central number ten.
Kemar Roofe is a striker and has injury worries. He isn’t a reliable option.
Giovanni Van Bronckhorst arrival at Rangers has seen us play traditional wingers, and Ryan Kent looks much more comfortable in this role on the left.
Rangers are clearly in the market for a right-winger, with the Record reporting interest in Bologna’s Andreas Skov Olsen.
His name has been mentioned for several transfer windows now. It appears Bologna may be willing to listen to offers.
Skov Olsen struggled in Italy this season, but he is being used as a right wing-back as opposed to a right-sided forward.
He looked dangerous against Scotland at Hampden this year, and if he can provide a goalscoring threat from the right-hand side, then Rangers will have a much greater balance in the side.Rangers squad needs refreshing
Rangers have failed to really deliver in the last few transfer windows. Cedric Itten came in for £2.7m, and hasn’t challenged for a spot.
In his short time at the club, he has been sent out on loan, failed to impress and been brought back.
Itten returned to the club under GVB, but will likely be moved on in the summer.
Kemar Roofe was brought in and has a decent goalscoring record. He fails to offer what Alfredo Morelos can to the team and ultimately looks to be a backup option when fit.
Ianis Hagi is another recruit, who has failed to deliver on a regular basis.
Fans had hoped some players would have been moved on in this window and new blood introduced but it is now looking unlikely.
Players such as Brandon Barker, Andy Firth, Jack Simpson, and Niko Katic [loan] are receiving a wage and can’t get near the squad.
John Lundstram and Juninho Bacuna have struggled for games, neither would be truly missed.
With Aribo and Arfield missing against Aberdeen midweek, Bacuna would have been an option, he never got off the bench.
Neither player looks like they have a future under GVB. Steven Davis is nearing the end of his great career; his long-term replacement is not yet at Ibrox.
Kamara needs someone alongside him in the middle of the park, preferably a box-to-box midfielder, one who carries a goal threat.
Champions League finances are at stake
It is a massive season in Scotland with huge financial rewards. The league is the obvious priority in most seasons, but particularly this season with the money at stake.
Celtic appear to be strengthening, or at least trying. In the first game of the new year Rangers dropped points, arguably, lucky to escape with a point.
Celtic defeated Hibs, one of the “better” sides in the league, albeit at home, to close the gap.
Rangers still look like they have a better squad, but can they afford to gamble on them for the rest of the season?
Fans are crying out for a few signings that can really push for a starting role and help increase the gap at the top of the table.
Rangers fans will be hoping for a flurry of activity in the final week of the transfer window. The board has done the fans proud in recent years, digging deep to get the club back to the top.
Regardless, with the £16m received from Nathan Patterson’s move to Everton, is it too much to ask for a couple of recruits?
It is a gamble worth taking to ensure the Champions League and its rewards.
Rangers can never afford to stand still — certainly not this season.
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