The £2 million fee forked out by Rangers yesterday to make Borna Barisic the 11th signing of the Steven Gerrard era takes the club’s net spend on transfers this summer beyond the £8m mark.
There are a number of ways of looking at this notable level of investment at what is currently a loss-making operation. It is an investment undertaken with the sole aim of making the Ibrox club title challengers to seven-in-a-row champions Celtic.
The £8m outlay dwarfs the £1m net spend on transfer fees thus far by Brendan Rodgers’ side. Against that, the sum that was splurged on four players by Rangers in Connor Goldson (a £3m buy from Brighton), Nikola Katic (a £2m acquisition from Slaven Belupo), Jamie Murphy (who joined permantly from Brighton for £1m) and the Osijek captain Barisic, is £1m shy of what Celtic lavished on one 20-year-old: in the form of Paris Saint-Germain product Odsonne Edouard.
The £9m fee for the striker was largely recouped by selling Stuart Armstrong for £7m and Erik Sviatchenko for £1m. Moreover, the £8m transfer budget given to Gerrard matches what Pedro Caixinha was allowed to splurge a year ago, an outlay that yielded little return, with the exception of Alfredo Morelos.
Mercifully for Rangers and their followers, there the similarities between the squad rebuilding of this summer and last would appear to end. That surely requires to be the case since it is difficult to see how the guts of £8m could afford to be burned on failed signings yearly at a club currently requiring around £20m of loans to allow its chairman Dave King to claim it is operating with a comfortable level of “over-investment”.
Caixinha’s initial scattergun approach to reshaping the squad came, most egregiously, with high-risk signings from Mexico. It contrasts with a targeted approach by which Gerrard has looked to a higher-calibre market in Croatia. That has been used to bring specific improvement in the Ibrox side’s problem area of defence.
The nation that reached last month’s World Cup final seems to have an endless supply of technical and tough backline performers. The 25-year-old Barisic was on stand-by for his country for the tournament in Russia after being cut from the larger squad named in May. Primarily a left-back, he joins fellow Croat Katic, who has been operating at centre-back alongside Goldson. The new recruits were identified by the Rangers manager as necessary upgrades in a department that has looked vulnerable in recent seasons.
Barisic, who signed a four-year deal, embraced a move to Scotland after being awed by the cacophony from the stands in Osijek’s Europa League tie at Ibrox last week. He has pledged he will be all “heart” in satisfying the demands of the Rangers faithful.
“I think the most important thing is that in every game I give 100 per cent,” the Croatia international told Rangers TV. “I think the Rangers fans recognise that and I will give my heart at Ibrox and every other stadium – I think that is important. I want to give back for all the messages the fans have sent me, and all the belief the manager has shown me. I need to back all this up on the pitch, and I will do that.”