As Rangers’ transfer business comes in for scrutiny, the comments of Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman on Ross Stewart’s move to Southampton will raise eyebrows.

The Gers were linked with a move for the gangly ex-Ross County striker last summer in particular but were also mentioned as potential suitors this summer.

This comes with Rangers having reportedly tailed Ross Stewart since his Staggies days and the striker scoring an impressive 40 goals in two years with the Black Cats.

But whilst a move for the Scotland international might’ve been of interest to some Rangers fans, Ross Stewart’s subsequent £10m transfer to Southampton proves the Ibrox club are on a different playing field than even the English Championship’s biggest sides.

The comments of Kristjaan Speakman about Ross Stewart about the striker maximising his potential at Sunderland prove Rangers are batting in a different ballpark altogether.

“It’s was a very complex matter because the player has performed to a very high level for our football club and we feel privileged to have had him here,” Speakman said.

“We were really proud of the progress he made here. People will have probably made a judgement on Ross Stewart joining when he came here. We have maximised his potential and he maximised his opportunity here.

“Sometimes that’s the outcome, people will move on and have different opportunities. What we had to do is ensure we protect the club and what we tried to do with that situation is make the best possible offer to retain him, which was our number one priority, and I said that throughout all the communication internally and externally.

“But there also comes a moment when you have to make a difficult decision and once you’ve made that difficult decision – and it was probably a difficult decision for the player as well to move on – then we had to protect the football club and get the best deal, and I certainly feel we did that.”

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg
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Rangers must nab Ross Stewart before Southampton are an option

As the finances involved in Ross Stewart’s move to Southampton make a move to Rangers a non-starter, the situation shines a light on the Ibrox side’s domestic recruitment recently.

Ross Stewart joins the likes of Lewis Ferguson (Bologna), Josh Doig (Verona) and Lawrence Shankland (Hearts) in being homegrown heroes Rangers have turned their nose up to.

Now thriving in different environments, the fees involved in taking anyone of these players to Ibrox is now super inflated and Rangers have surely missed the boat.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

These deals need to be a reality check for Rangers in that the club’s place in the footballing food chain is dictating that we need to take risks on these Scottish players sooner rather than later.

In the case of Ross Stewart, Sunderland have proven that there is big money to be made as the Scotland star looks to earn promotion with Southampton.

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