After Rangers completed their eighth and ninth signings of the summer last week with the arrival of Umar Sadiq and Lassana Coulibaly from Roma and Angers, respectively, we look at where else in the squad the Ibrox side could strengthen.
Steven Gerrard has said himself he’s in the market for another central defender, an admission made amid reports the Ibrox side are chasing Millwall defender Jake Cooper. It’s hardly surprising given the departure of Bruno Alves to Parma. With Russell Martin and David Bates also leaving the club this summer, and Gerrard plainly stating that he sees Ross McCrorie as a central midfielder, it leaves the Light Blues with only new additions Connor Goldson and Nikola Katic as their senior options at centre-back. At least one more player at the position is a must.
Umar Sadiq has arrived on a season-long loan from Roma and, with Gerrard seemingly keen on playing a 4-3-3 with one central striker, that signing may be enough for the forward corps. The Nigerian can battle it out with Alfredo Morelos, while Jamie Murphy and Josh Windass can provide emergency cover. However, in order to provide insurance should either of Sadiq or Morelos succumb to long-term injury, and tactical flexibility should Gerrard ever consider a two-man attack, then another striker would be required. Eduardo Herrera is still at the club, though he’s unlikely to play after being told he’s free to move elsewhere. Getting the Mexican off the wage bill may prove crucial in recruiting another hitman to take his place.
The ongoing stand-off between Lee Wallace and the Rangers board may be resolved, which would give Gerrard two left-backs capable of playing at the Ladbrokes Premiership level, with Jon Flanagan apparently able to cover as well. If it’s not - or if Wallace leaves - then by his own admission the Rangers boss will be looking for another player at the role as Gerrard said he wants two players for each position. Flanagan played at left-back against Shkupi last Thursday, but it left the hosts without a single left-footed player in the team.
There are nine senior centre-midfielders in the first-team picture for next season, which would suggest they are content in that area. However, while there is a lot of running in the unit, there isn’t a great deal of creativity between them. The deployment of Daniel Candeias as part of a midfield three would suggest Gerrard wants at least one of his CMs to be quite attack-minded. Getting someone in of such a mindset, with a bit more guile and ingenuity, would provide the team with greater balance.
Versatile forward on the right
Windass started the Shkupi first leg on the right of midfield. Or rather, he played from the right of midfield, as he always looked to dart inside with Candeias and James Tavernier looking to exploit the space left by the attacker. He should have netted a couple of times in the match, which would indicate there is potential for this experiment to work. However, Rangers fans remain unconvinced by Windass in a ‘key-player-on-a-league-title-winner’ respect, while there have been rumours of English clubs looking to trigger a release clause in his contract. Another forward who can operate on the flank or through the centre would likely be of use.