Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says £3m Filip Helander a bargain buy

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard believes he has landed a bargain with the £3 million capture of Swedish international central defender Filip Helander from Bologna.

Rangers new signing Filip Helander is unveiled to the crowd at half-time. Picture: SNS
Rangers new signing Filip Helander is unveiled to the crowd at half-time. Picture: SNS

The 26-year-old has signed a four-year contract and was paraded in front of the Rangers fans at half-time of the 4-0 friendly win against Marseille at Ibrox. Helander’s fee, which could rise to £3.5m, is Rangers’ most significant financial move in the transfer market since they signed Nikica Jelavic for £4 million nine years ago.

Gerrard feels Helander can be a key addition to his squad as Rangers try to end Celtic’s current dominance of Scottish football.

“At £3 million, we’ve done really well to get Filip,” said Gerrard. “If you look at what is going on in the market in front of us, in England and around the world for a centre-back, £3 million is money well spent. But he has to go and prove it now. It’s a position where we have been looking for the right solution for a long time. To have someone of his calibre, a Swedish international with his height and profile, he ticks a lot of the boxes we were looking for.

“He naturally gives us balance as a left-footer. That enables us to play with a two or with a back three. He will be able to defend our box and be a threat at set pieces.

“He is comfortable on the ball. He’s a good man, he’s a leader. We do need more voices out there if we want to challenge for the top prizes.”

Helander is Rangers’ eighth signing of the summer window and Gerrard’s focus will now turn to off-loading some of those players who have become surplus to his requirements. “We will naturally try and move some people out of the door because the squad is too big and bloated right now,” he added.

“Over the coming weeks, we hope to move some on. It’s very difficult to meet everyone’s ambitions in terms of game time.

“Sometimes I have to respect players who are saying they are only interested in starting every game. If there is something out there that suits the club, then I will respect that.

“In terms of incomings, we are near enough done. I say near enough – you are never done as a manager. But there won’t be much more activity in terms of incomings.”

Gerrard was gratified by Rangers’ performance against Marseille as a double from Daniel Candeias and goals from Connor Goldson and Jermain Defoe saw them sweep the Ligue 1 outfit aside. “It was very beneficial,” said Gerrard. “It was a good test for us against a good team with a good coach.

“The idea is to give the players different tests throughout pre-season. They faced a technical team today, similar to some of the European challenges we are hoping to face.

“That’s how we want to look at Ibrox. It’s our pitch, we want to try and own it as much as we can. You saw a very hungry performance, in and out of possession.

“We showed against good players today we can handle the ball and move it in the right areas. It looked good on the eye at times but I was also impressed with our hunger and intensity to win the ball back.”