Rangers playing the £30m long game after successful summer transfer window

The success or otherwise of this summer’s transfer window from Rangers’ perspective was never going to be defined by who they recruited.

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was linked with Porto this summer. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

What mattered most to manager Steven Gerrard and his coaching staff ahead of Tuesday night’s deadline was which players they held onto.

In that regard, Gerrard can feel content. Barring any unexpected late interventions from clubs in countries such as Russia and Turkey, where the window remains open for another week, all of Rangers’ key first team players are staying put.

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After taking three years to build the squad which secured the Ibrox club’s first title win for a decade last season, Gerrard was determined to avoid the solid foundations he has laid being undermined.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has retained the services of the key performers in the Ibrox club's 2020-21 title triumph as he looks to hold onto the Premiership trophy. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Despite his adrenaline-fuelled declaration after Rangers lifted the Premiership trophy in May that anyone looking to sign any of his top performers would ‘need to bring an army with them’, Gerrard knows the reality is that any bids matching the club’s valuations would have been considered.

But while the Rangers board have made no secret of the need to move towards a more financially sustainable player trading model, they also had no intention of engaging in the false economy of selling anyone just for the sake of a marginally improved balance sheet this year.

They underlined that stance by throwing out two bids from Everton, the second of them of around £8 million, for Scotland international right-back Nathan Patterson.

If the dismal defeat to Malmo in the Champions League qualifiers strengthened the perception among some observers that Rangers simply had to sell a player this month, the Ibrox club’s investors appear happy to play a longer game.

Rangers made a winning start to the season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

They know that the reward for retaining the Premiership title this season will almost certainly be direct entry to the group stage of the 2022-23 Champions League and the bounty in excess of £30 million which comes with it.

It’s why it makes more sense to hold onto assets such as striker Alfredo Morelos and winger Ryan Kent for at least another campaign, rather than weaken Gerrard’s hand in the face of a potentially stronger title challenge from Celtic.

Rangers did most of the business they felt they needed to do early in the window with the recruitment of midfielder John Lundstram and striker Fashion Sakala, while another midfielder was added a fortnight ago in Juninho Bacuna.

Gerrard is now entitled to feel he is defending the Premiership crown from a position of stability and strength, which could be further enhanced by the return from injury of Ryan Jack in the coming weeks, while also equipped for another successful Europa League group stage campaign.

Perhaps the only mildly surprising development in Rangers’ transfer window activity was the decision to loan striker Cedric Itten to Bundesliga club Greuther Furth, albeit with a January recall clause.

Although the big Swiss international’s game time has been limited at Ibrox, he provided a valuable and often telling option from the bench.

But with Morelos, Kemar Roofe and now Sakala ahead of him in the queue for striking places - and with veteran player-coach Jermain Defoe offering further cover in that department - Gerrard clearly felt he could afford to let Itten go for the time being.

The avoidance of anyone saying a permanent farewell was always his priority.

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