Rangers recruitment plans outlined by Mohamed Diomande deal - Celtic Matt O'Riley blueprint is utopia for many clubs

Ibrox club has high hopes for Ivorian and explain why they have to pursue players like him

There was a real laying it on the line by Philippe Clement as to just how much is wrapped up for Rangers in the sort of signing Mohamed Diomande’s acquisition represents to the club. The Belgian went as far to suggest that the Ibrox side’s very survival as a force in European football is contingent on the Ivorian blossoming.

Clement would never dare to draw the comparison directly, but with the loan-to-buy £4.5million purchase of the 22-year-old from Nordsjælland the club require the midfielder to become a Rangers version of Celtic’s Matt O’Riley. Their rivals this week threw out a bid from Atletico Madrid for the 23-year-old who, barring unforeseen circumstances, will be sold for £25m-plus in the summer.

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In that event, O’Riley will become the latest poster boy for the trading model all clubs within smaller markets pursue as a nirvana through having only been recruited two years ago from MK Dons for the snip of £1.5m. For a fee three times that, Rangers need to nurture Diomande to grow into an asset valued similarly to O’Riley – Clement making no bones about how setting such prospects on this path is a prerequisite for Rangers’ future prosperity.

New Rangers signing Mohamed Diomande pictured at colourful Nyhavn in Copenhagen. Photo by Kirk O'Rourke/Shutterstock.New Rangers signing Mohamed Diomande pictured at colourful Nyhavn in Copenhagen. Photo by Kirk O'Rourke/Shutterstock.
New Rangers signing Mohamed Diomande pictured at colourful Nyhavn in Copenhagen. Photo by Kirk O'Rourke/Shutterstock.

“It’s crucial because you cannot survive as a club in Europe, where things are evolving, if you don’t have that model,” Clement said. “You need to get players in and after a period of time sell them for profit. You either do that or you need to have an investor who puts crazy money in every year. We are not a club like that so we need to have a transfer model to grow. If you don’t grow you go backwards because there are other teams that are growing in Europe. And in the league also. So you need this model, it’s really clear.

“An assessment is made by the whole club, what he [Diomande] is worth now and what he can be worth in the future. So it’s a longer term investment in that way. We had a lot of good talks together and I think he’s convinced because of the club, the fans, the project and the way of working and growing as a player.

“We are aligned about that and it’s now about him showing it in the short term, but for sure long term too. They have a longer winter break in Scandinavia so it’s been longer since he played competitive football. We need to see his physical level and bring him back to his best level as fast as possible. That’s also a reason why one of our performance coaches is there now with him. He doesn’t have his Visa just now, but we don’t want to waste time.”

Clement revealed that Diomande was on his possibles list when he was in charge at Monaco, and sees the “versatile” player – who can “play in defensive midfield offensive, no.10, six and eight” and has “even played left full-back or left winger” as illustrating the strength of his selling Danish club’s academy and African scouting network. Any fully trading model must be two-pronged and involve polishing up gems that both have been bought in and reared from within. Clement believes his impress record on that second front was a major factor in Rangers’ decision to appoint him three months ago.

“That’s one of the parts I have been talking about also with the club,” he said. “From the first day I stepped into the building they knew about that and it was one of the reasons, also, that they finally chose me. I have always been busy with the development of young players. Look at Genk, where we had Leandro Trossard [now at Arsenal] as young player who came through. Sander Berge was another young player who went to Sheffield. Jhon Lucumi we got as a young player at 18 from Colombia. Joakim Maehle is at Atalanta now and he was also a really young player.

“There was a lot at Bruges as well. In Monaco we had Aurelien Tchouameni and Axel Disasi and other young players coming through and developing. So it’s an important thing because you cannot survive as a club if you only spend. If you don’t make profit the club cannot survive. So we need to find a model that turns a profit out of transfers.”