Steven Gerrard has warned he will be firmly at odds with the Rangers board of directors if they sanction a late transfer window sale of any of his key players.
Gerrard is hopeful his success in leading Rangers to the group stage of the Europa League for a second successive season has mitigated any need for the club to accept significant offers which could arrive before Monday night’s deadline.
The win against Legia Warsaw on Thursday night earned Rangers the financial boost of an attractive group in which they will face Feyenoord, Porto and Young Boys.
But the opening home game against the Dutch side on 19 September will be played at a reduced capacity Ibrox after Rangers were once again ordered to close a 3,000-seat section by Uefa as punishment for sectarian chanting in last week’s away leg against Legia.
Alfredo Morelos, who scored Rangers’ stoppage-time winner against the Polish club on Thursday, has again been linked with a move away. Espanyol are the latest club credited with an interest in the Colombian striker but Gerrard has now autonomously declared his top scorer is staying put.
“I haven’t had any assurances, I have just made the decision myself,” said the Rangers manager. “None of my best players are going before the window closes.
“Because we want to push on, we want to keep growing and we want to improve. We want to get better. We don’t want to get weaker. Letting one of our best players go now weakens us seriously. And it is almost impossible now to go and get a player from another club to replace them. So I’d be extremely disappointed if the board didn’t back me on that decision. But I’ve had no assurances on it. Look, it’s not my club. That’s the brutal answer.
“But I have got confidence in the board that they want to take this team forward and they want to be successful moving forward.
“I’d be very surprised if I got a phone call or a visit from one of them to say ‘Look, we have had this bid for one of our better players and we are going to accept it.’ I’d be extremely surprised. But you know and I know that anything can happen in football.
“Getting through in Europe has possibly helped make sure we don’t sell. I didn’t speak to the board in terms of what would happen if we qualified or not.
“But the truth is we haven’t had a fax or a phone call
offering a certain amount of money for our best players. It hasn’t happened and we don’t want to sell them.”
Gerrard confirmed that he does expect movement among his fringe players before the deadline. Jake Hastie is poised to join Rotherham United on a season-long loan, while Eros Grezda, Joe Dodoo and Jason Holt all have “options” according to Gerrard.
The Rangers manager does not anticipate any more additions to his squad, which seems to signal the end of any prospect of Liverpool winger
Ryan Kent returning for a
second loan spell.
“Nothing has changed there,” added Gerrard.
“Liverpool have got a price and we move on. The reason we did our business early in the window was to give ourselves the best chance to qualify for the Europa League group stage, which we did.
“I’m really happy with how the squad’s looking.
“We need to get two or three up to speed in terms of game minutes. But I’m happy with where we are.”
Meanwhile, Rangers have received a second Uefa punishment for sectarian chants among their fans, this time during the first leg of the Europa League play-off tie against Legia in Poland.
They have again been ordered to leave 3,000 seats empty for the next home game in Europe, which will be their Group G opener against Feyenoord.
Rangers had already announced they will not take any tickets for their next away fixture, which will be against Young Boys in
Switzerland on 2 October, as they attempt to address the issue.
Despite their status as the bottom seeds in the group, Gerrard is upbeat about Rangers’ chances of upsetting the odds and reaching the knockout phase of the tournament.
“For the players, it’s an exciting draw and it gives them a great opportunity to go and get some really valuable experience,” he added.
“For the fans, they can go and enjoy watching their team so there have been a lot of positives in the last 24 hours.
“Of course we will be underdogs, but my message as the manager is that we are not here to make up the numbers. Trying to get out of this group is the next challenge.”