AWOL Morelos Should Be Replaced By A Smarter Recruit From The Americas

There’s a feeling of imminent separation with every transfer window when it comes to Alfredo Morelos and Glasgow Rangers. Rumours of bids from English clubs such as Aston Villa and Leeds United and from teams in the Chinese Super League have circulated during his time at the Ibrox clubs without resulting in a firm bid but it seems more and more likely this summer will see a parting of the ways. This week Morelos was AWOL from training and dropped from a match squad after arriving back late from a trip home to Colombia which may influence Steven Gerrard’s decision of a bid does materialise soon. When it does happen the Rangers scouting department heads Ross Wilson and Andy Scoulding will have a difficult task replacing “El Buffalo”.

Pure Fitbaw thinks there are two main points for Rangers to consider in their approach. 

  1. Can the player replicate Morelos’ output?
  2. Does the player hold good resale value?

Point 1 is the most critical as Rangers will need to recruit an attacker who can first and foremost contribute with goals, either vote through scoring or creating. Alfredo Morelos is currently averaging 0.9 scoring contributions (goals or assists) per 90 minutes played this season.

Point 2 should be part of Rangers long term strategy when recruiting players to Ibrox. It is worth noting that there have been twenty-six permanent transfers since summer 2017, with an outlay of over £33 million in fees. By contrast only three players have been sold in the same period for a total of just £3.4 million. A lot can be said about the difficulties of emulating models such as those employed by Ajax and the Red Bull clubs, but quite simply Rangers’ current expenditure in comparison to their income in the transfer market is not sustainable.

Applying these two basic principles will narrow down the talent pool and the players highlighted in this article are realistic and should be within a reasonable budget for Ross Wilson and co to consider as potential replacements for Morelos or added depth should Rangers be able to keep him for another season. One of the advantages for Scottish clubs in the transfer market is our relaxed views when it comes to granting work permits for non-EU players and this presents Rangers with an opportunity to evaluate markets that may have untapped talent.

Manfred Ugalde

The 17-year-old Costa Rican wonder-kid has already been on trial with Udinese and Benfica in recent months and due to a legal snag missed out on an opportunity to train with Atletico Madrid. 

Ugade is a player who likes to operate in between the lines and could be seen as more of a “false nine” – connecting the play and looking to attack space – than a pure striker.

There is a stark contrast in how Ulgade is in front of goal compared to Morelos. The Costa Rican looks to have a real level of composure in his finishing. looking to place his shots low and into the corner where possible, which seems extraordinary for someone so young. By comparison Morelos typically focuses on power rather than precision.

Pulling defenders out and creating space is something that a Rangers centre forward will need to be able to do with the majority of Scottish teams setting up in a defensive shape designed to frustrate and Uglade is more than comfortable to operate within the half-spaces or pull into wider areas. This will help with overloads down the left and the right and allow for third man runs from Scott Arfield, Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo to contribute with attempts on goal.

If Ugalde was to be a Rangers starter he would have to work on his strength and conditioning, which is something that you would naturally associate with a younger player but, for now, his football IQ is sharp enough to get him through the early stages of a career in Scotland.

Ignacio Ramirez

In the current Rangers squad there are a lot of players who could be classed as “technicians” and there are games that Rangers have played this season such as Aberdeen (0-0), Hearts (1-1) and St Mirren (1-0) where the classic centre forward may have been more successful. A player who relies on instinctive timings and just knowing how to find the back of the net. 

Playing for the other Liverpool (Liverpool Montevideo from Uruguay) is a 23 year old striker with those classic predatory instincts. Being in the right place, peeling off defenders and wanting to be in the box are traits Ignacio Ramirez possesses.

According to reports Ramirez is a target for Turkish giants Galatasaray and it is likely his incredible goalscoring record has put him on the radar of several other clubs too. 23 goals in 28 games are the numbers that will help you understand why a team might want to invest in this sort of talisman. His desire to be involved in goalmouth action is not always something you see in modern-day strikers. The Uruguayan forfeits the build-up play to find the best position for himself to be in the danger area. 

It’s also worth adding given Rangers’ current woes from the penalty spot that Ramirez has a high conversion rate for his penalties scoring 4 out of 5 last season.

You could find some issues with Ramirez lack of involvement in games, as he can be quite a selfish player when it comes to patterns of play. There would need to be some work done on his combination play, but if you need a goalscorer, then you might struggle to find a closer definition to penalty box striker. 

Nahuel Bustos

The final recommendation takes us to Argentina where Nahuel Bustos plays for Talleres. Not a conventional striker but capable of playing in any of four advanced positions including as an inverted winger, behind the striker or through the middle and that level of versatility could be a potential benefit should Rangers be able to add him while also keeping Morelos. 

Bustos’ versatility gives him an edge as defenders struggle to stay with him as he can drop deep and be involved in build-up play or drift into areas that provide the best chance of a one v one situation. Driving at defensive players, he likes to square them up and make it difficult for the opposition to turn their body shape which again creates space to attack, for supporting runs or a clear path to goal.

In addition he is more than capable of pressing from the front and while he does not look the strongest in stature he is effective at reading opponents and winning the ball back and starting the attacking transition. 

I fully expect a smart club to invest in this young Argentine and reap their reward as he does a lot of the actions that modern clubs like from their attacking players;

  • Press from the front 
  • Drive at opposition 
  • smart positional play
  • Clinical finishing 

Bustos has a £7 million price tag according to Transfermarkt.com and would undoubtedly be the most costly of this trio but, with just 18 months left on his contract, it may be possible for Rangers to do a deal for around half that.

South America is not a natural area for Rangers to scout and will have its logistical challenges but these are the types of markets and players within them that Rangers should consider to take them to the next level.

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