Rangers' Pedro Caixinha puts Barrie McKay at top of agenda
The 22-year-old has reputedly rejected Rangers’ opening offer of an improved contract, with his current arrangement due to expire in 12 months’ time.
Caixinha was coy on his intent, but he wants a resolution to the McKay situation and he insists he only wants players fully committed to the cause as he begins a massive rebuilding job which, by definition, is required as a result of predecessor Mark Warburton’s woeful recruitment.
The Portuguese wants new players in place for the beginning of pre-season on 5 June – although some of his targets may need to join later as he revealed he covets stars who will be competing in the Confederation Cup in Russia between 17 June and 4 July.
Portugal and Mexico are two of the eight competitors so it is hardly surprising that players from these countries are piquing his interest but it would be surprising if he could afford any of them.
Maybe the proceeds of a McKay transfer would help – if it is decided that he will be made available for sale.
Caixinha said: “Barrie is a nice guy and a nice player. We are assessing him and next week we will have a final answer.
“I need to sit with him, I need to sit with the board and make one decision.
“It’s not a question of whether he wants to sign a new contract or not.
“If I felt that player or other players could stay with us or not then it is not a question of contract.
“Maybe I could say someone is not going to remain with us and they could say they were thinking about moving.
“I only want people here that are loving and feeling passionate about the club, people that want to be here and win for the club.
“Equally, I’m not going to bring a single player who has doubts whether he wants to move here or not.
“We had one player who received a clear offer, and he started what I call an auction – ‘Okay, but I have this offer and this offer and that offer’.
“Okay. Go. Enjoy your life. I wish you the best. Here is not going to be where you play.
“I want players who really want to come, players who are calling me all the time saying they want to be here with me.
“I want players to come here and become idols, I know what the fans want and what I want. I want those types of players at Ibrox.”
While Warburton was unfortunate in that his three major signings last summer – Joey Barton, Niko Kranjcar and Jordan Rossiter – were a disaster for various reasons, Caixinha effectively savaged his recruitment with his revelations on what he needs to fix.
He said: “We need more muscle in our style of play, to explore the wide areas more, to have quicker and more aggressive players up front, we need a strong midfield definitely, and we also need to have really combative players at centre half.”
Gutting a squad and starting again is not new to Caixinha, who had to do the same sort of thing at each of his last three jobs – Nacional, Santos Laguna and Al Gharafa.
He still has to make his mind up on two of the current squad and he has laid down the gauntlet for them to prove their worth in the remaining four fixtures, starting with today’s local derby with Partick Thistle at Firhill.
He said: “I made these changes in Mexico, I did it with Nacional and the last one was in Qatar when the club was in danger of relegation and then finished below the four biggest clubs so we changed a lot of things.
“It depends on the level of the club, the market, the opportunities but that’s what we are working also to do here in Rangers. We are used to it.
“I still have one maybe two doubts in my head in terms of the current squad but I have made my mind up on everyone else.
“So these remaining four games will make my mind up.
“On the markets we are watching we have players who finish the week before we start pre-season on 5 June.
“We may also have players we like involved in the Confederations Cup so we will have alternative arrangements made for those players if we persuade them to come over.”
Captain Lee Wallace will escape the Caixinha purge, but he will barely have time to celebrate his wedding, given Rangers’ return to European football on 29 June.
Caixinha said: “Lee gets married on 11 June and he can have the day after off too, but that’s it.”