Rangers sign Alfredo Morelos in time for Europa League
Alfredos Morelos formally became Rangers' sixth new signing of the summer yesterday, with confirmation of completed deals for Mexican duo Carlos Pena and Eduardo Herrera also expected '¨imminently.
All three players have been registered by the Ibrox club in their initial squad for the Europa League qualifying campaign which begins next week. A three-year deal for Morelos, who joins for an undisclosed fee from Finnish club HJK Helsinki, was ratified after the Colombian striker’s work permit application was approved.
Midfielder Pena and striker Herrera, whose transfers from respective Mexican clubs Guadalajara and UNAM have already been agreed in principle, will be formally announced as Rangers players this week when their work permits come through.
Rangers can still add one more player to their squad for the Europa League first qualifying round tie against Progres Niederkorn of Luxembourg. They have until 28 June, the day before the first leg at Ibrox, to register another signing. Rangers continue to pursue deals for midfielders Graham Dorrans and Jamie Walker, their offers to Norwich City and Hearts for the pair having so far been rejected.
Morelos, who celebrates his 21st birthday tomorrow, joins Bruno Alves, Ryan Jack, Fabio Cardoso, Dalcio and Daniel Candeias as new additions to the squad being radically reshaped by Rangers manager Pedro Caixinha.
The Colombian Under-20 international began his career with Independiente Medellin in his homeland before moving to HJK Helsinki in February 2016. He scored 46 goals in 62 appearances for the club and was signed by Rangers on the recommendation of their former player and recently appointed coach, former Finnish international Jonatan Johansson.
Morelos appeared as a second-half substitute for Rangers yesterday when they drew 1-1 against Welsh champions The New Saints in a closed-door friendly match at their Glasgow training centre. It was the second such warm-up match for Caixinha’s squad who beat Northern Irish side Coleraine 5-0 last week.
The Portuguese coach has reiterated his determination to be fully prepared for the club’s return to European football, starting off with the tie against Luxembourg minnows Progres.
“We have started to collect our information,” said Caixinha. “We know they are going to have a couple of matches before we play against them, so we want to be present. We want to analyse them and we want to do our homework. Of course, thinking about our team but also knowing about the opponent we are going to face. The return of Rangers to Europe is important for the club and we are going to do everything to be in the group stage. This is the first step and the first level, and we need to pass through it.”
Caixinha was pleased to secure an initial tie which offers a relatively short travelling itinerary.
“That is a benefit,” he told Rangers TV. “It will be our first match and for the recovery process of the team it is good not to have a long trip.
“We are just waiting to hear when the second leg will be, so I am waiting to know to organise the plan and everything is going according to our first expectations of the process regarding to the plan.”
Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson expressed his satisfaction with the club’s renewed presence on the continental stage.
“The European arena is one in which Rangers should always be involved and it is a real pleasure to see our club back on that platform,” said Robertson.