Six Rangers players not part of Ibrox farewell party but who could still depart this summer
Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent, Scott Arfield and Filip Helander did just that. Yet, for Michael Beale to perform the major surgery on his current squad he has declared imperative, departures cannot end with that quintet whose contracts have been allowed to elapse.
The Englishman has spoken of recruiting up to seven players while also paring down his squad. Meanwhile, with incoming chief executive James Bisgrove having laid out that Rangers can move to a position where they can be self-sustaining and not require regular cash injections from investors, there appears an obvious requirement to avoid the situation where sellable assets are allowed to run down their contracts. As cost millions in the cases of Morelos and Kent, who both lost their way in their final 12 months.
All these factors could have implications for players that do not appear to be considered part of the future set-up Beale is constructing. The acquisition of Kieran Dowell this week, with a goalkeeper to follow in the coming days, the first steps on that road. It is difficult to see how midfield anchor Glen Kamara, keeper Jon McLaughlin and Scott Wright fit into the plans of the Ibrox manager. Indeed, the fact that Kamara was handed his first start in almost three months for the 2-2 draw with the Tynecastle side could suggest the move was an under-the-radar parting gift. The Finnish international has largely disappeared from view since January transfer window signing Nicolas Raskin was bedded into the side. With two years remaining on his deal, the 27-year-old could command a £2m fee to reinvest into the team rebuild that Beale has stated wouldn’t require sticking plasters so much as amputations. It wouldn’t be going out on a limb to place McLaughlin - out of contract next summer - and Wright in the same bracket as Kamara. Potential for game-time for all three next season appears so limited that retaining them would only seem to clog up the more limited squad slot Beale wants to operate to ensure all those under his charge feel enfranchised. Never mind that ghost players, as such individuals become, eat up wages without offering any return on such outlay.
In total, 37 players have made appearances for Rangers this season. Half a dozen of these came from within the youth ranks. That still leaves a senior pool of more than 30 when Beale has intimated a more comfortable number to ensure the leanness he is seeking would be around 24. In Dowell and the as-yet-unknown new keeper, effectively Arfield and McGregor have been replaced. With the potential for four more additions - one of whom could yet be Malik Tillman, with talks on a permanent deal for the Bayern Munich loanee to be held next week - Rangers would remain top heavy without some further pruning. Even if Kamara, McLaughlin and Wright are moved on.
If assessing where else Beale could deploy his secateurs, it might be instructive to first consider the players are approaching the final year of their present deals without any extensions appearing in the pipeline. Into that bracket comes Borna Barisic, Kemar Roofe, John Lundstram and McLaughlin. Now, at various points - the Scotland keeper apart - Beale has talked up his desire to retain the services of these players. Set against that, though, he admitted the other day to being economical with the truth about his backing for players this season because he needed all on board. Now, he must give serious thoughts to being bold with the precise number sent to the lifeboats.
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