Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos on track to overhaul Celtic ace Henrik Larsson’s Euro record
Still playing for Galatasaray as he approaches his 34th birthday, the prolific former Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco star is an injury absentee for Colombia’s friendlies against Peru and Ecuador over the next five days.
That could provide Morelos with the opportunity to transfer his current red-hot form for Rangers on to the international stage.
Unsurprisingly, Morelos regards Falcao – Colombia’s all-time leading marksman with 34 goals from 89 appearances – as a role model.
He is certainly following in Falcao’s footsteps in the Europa League this season, where he has been the pivotal figure in an admirable campaign for Steven Gerrard’s side who have a place in the knockout stages of the tournament firmly within their grasp.
Morelos has scored 11 goals in Rangers’ 12 Europa League fixtures so far, remarkably putting him on the brink of joining an elite list of players which is headed by none other than his hero Falcao.
The 18 goals Falcao scored for Porto as they won the Europa League in 2010-11 is the highest ever single season tally for a player in the 64-year history of European club competitions.
It is an outstanding achievement for Falcao, given the calibre of player behind him on the list. Cristiano Ronaldo boasts three entries on the chart from his astonishing spell at Real Madrid, his best haul of 17 goals coming in the 2013-14 season, while his great rival Lionel Messi scored 14 times in Barcelona’s 2011-12 Champions League campaign.
That’s a number Messi shares with former Scotland midfielder John Wark, who memorably plundered 14 goals for Bobby Robson’s brilliant Ipswich Town side as they won the Uefa Cup in 1980-81.
Morelos is now just one goal short of the highest tally ever achieved by a player with a Scottish club, the 12 netted by Celtic icon Henrik Larsson in 2002-03 as Martin O’Neill’s squad went all the way to the Uefa Cup final in Seville.
Goalscoring statistics alone, of course, cannot always tell the full story of a striker’s status and ability.
For example, with the greatest of respect to fans of Levski Sofia, the presence of Kiril Milanov on the list could be regarded as something of an anomaly as ten of the Bulgarian striker’s 13 goals in the European Cup Winners’ Cup of 1976-77 were scored in a single tie, a 19-3 aggregate thrashing of Finnish side Lahden Reipas. But while four of Morelos’ European goals this season were claimed in the first qualifying round tie against Gibraltarian minnows St Joseph’s, the 23-year-old is proving to be much more than a flat track bully as he continues to flourish and improve under Gerrard. His stoppage-time winner against Legia Warsaw at Ibrox, which took Rangers into the group stage, and subsequent quality of finishes against Young Boys and Porto (twice) in the group stage are evidence of a striker destined for the kind of big money move with which he is consistently linked.
Rangers supporters will hope that Gerrard and new sporting director Ross Wilson are both vindicated in their assertion Morelos will not and does not need to be sold in January.
For the player’s own CV, staying with Rangers for at least the rest of this season could be significantly beneficial.
Morelos will look to add to his Europa League tally in the remaining group games against Feyenoord and Young Boys, while progress to the knockout stage would offer him a real opportunity to ascend that heady list of single season Euro hitmen and perhaps even match Falcao.