Scottish giants Rangers have been more active in the transfer market than any other Premiership outfit. The club have managed to rope in as many as seven players (two returning on permanent transfers following their impressive loan spells) with more than a month still remaining for the transfer window to close.
There are three strikers among the seven players Steven Gerrard has already signed. While 37-year-old Jermain Defoe is returning to the club following an impressive loan spell last season, Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten are two new faces coming through the Ibrox door to strengthen Rangers’ attacking line-up this season.
While one of Gerrard’s aim in bringing two new strikers was obviously to give Celtic a run for their money, the uncertainty regarding the future of goal-machine Alfredo Morelos also had a huge role to play in determining his transfer strategy.
The Colombian has been linked with a move away from the club, with French giants Lille looking to add the 24-year-old to their ranks.
The Scottish giants knocked back an initial offer from the Ligue 1 side for Morelos, claiming that the offer fell “some way short” of their valuation of the star striker.
However, the recent performances of Alfredo Morelos have been suggestive that the 24-year-old has had his head turned by Lille’s interest.
So, with a possible departure of Morelos looking very much on the cards, the question is whether the duo of Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten are capable enough to replace the Colombian at Ibrox.
Alfredo Morelos’ story at Rangers
Since his arrival from Finnish side HJK in the summer of 2017, Alfredo Morelos hasn’t disappointed Rangers. He has scored goals on most occasions when the Gers needed him to fire.
In his first season in Scotland, the striker finished with 18 goals, with 14 of them coming in the Premiership – the second-highest behind Kris Boyd of Kilmarnock.
The following summer Steven Gerrard took charge of the club and was immediately impressed by the quality of the Colombian, who had been nicknamed ‘El Bufalo’ by the Rangers fans.
He scored 30 goals in his first season under Gerrard and also provided 11 assists, with Rangers managing a total of 82 goals, five more than champions Celtic.
Last season’s statistics were not much different as Morelos found the back of the net 29 times in 47 appearances in all competitions.
However, the goods have come with baggage as time and again, Alfredo Morelos’ goals have been followed by red cards, thus frustrating his manager and teammates.
The striker has, in fact, received as many as seven red cards over the course of the last two seasons – a staggering number.
However, former Rangers midfielder Andy Halliday in a recent interview with Sportsound said that he has seen disciplinary improvements in the player so far this season. He said,
“You want him to have that fire and drive in his belly but also you want to curb his discipline and calm down that temper. Sometimes it comes across that he’s not trying as hard but as he’s matured he’s trying not to get involved and be petulant. But I have felt I have been watching a different Alfredo so far this year,”
But Alfredo Morelos is a volcano ready to explode and can prove to be a negative influence inside the dressing room if he is kept in Scotland against his will.
Following their 2-0 win against Kilmarnock on 22nd August, Steven Gerrard said that Morelos had made it easy for him to drop the striker because he only wants to work with players who are fully focused on doing the job for the team.
Morelos was again left on the bench during Rangers’ 2-0 win over Hamilton last weekend.
Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten to fill Alfredo Morelos’ void?
Alfredo Morelos was replaced in the starting line-up in Rangers’ last two matches by new arrival Kemar Roofe, with fellow summer signing Cedric Itten also making it to the playing eleven against Kilmarnock (the 23-year-old missed the match against Hamilton with injury).
27-year-old Roofe comes with a lot of experience, having spent three seasons at Leeds United and scoring 33 goals over the course of 122 matches for the Whites. He also spent a season at Belgian side Anderlecht and his experience will go a long way in helping him deliver the goods at Rangers.
Swiss international Itten has also developed a reputation for scoring goals, with the 23-year-old netting 20 goals in 36 matches for St Gallen last term. He has shown sparks of brilliance in the four matches he has been on the pitch for Rangers, although he is yet to open his goalscoring account for the Glasgow giants.
However, for that to happen, he will have to wait for at least two weeks as he recovers from a calf injury.
While an injury to Itten might open a window of opportunity for Morelos, provided he stays till then, in Rangers’ next match against Dundee United on 12th September, the 24-year-old will need to show a significant change in his attitude in order to impress his manager.
A change in attitude will not only help Morelos get back on Steven Gerrard’s good books but it will also be beneficial in increasing his value in the transfer market.
However, even if Alfredo Morelos leaves, Gerrard has been assured of the fact that Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten can fill the void of ‘El Bufalo’.
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