As Rangers published their financial results for the year covering Covid-19, losses of £23.5m created plenty of headlines with player trading the term of the day at Ibrox.

Between the obsession from rivals regarding the finances at Ibrox and by proxy the sports press, clickbait stories on Rangers’ finances often make it hard to get the right sense of perspective.

St. Mirren FC v Rangers FC - Cinch Scottish Premiership
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is well aware of the need for the player trading model to kick in soon. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Too much of the press coverage is alluding to the notion Rangers are skint or on the verge of collapse in order to entice particularly Celtic fans of a certain vintage onto digital news sites.

The message however from more sensible and considered voices is that Rangers are on the right track, that losses were and are inevitable as the club is rebuilt, and that Covid-19 was a huge player in the club’s short-term loss of revenue.

Read more from Price of Football’s Kieran Maguire via the Herald.

But what even those who offer a sensible take on Rangers’ finances recognise is that before long the Ibrox club must kick in the fourth pillar of the club’s business model – player trading.

Rangers player trading coming to a head with five key first-teamers

Rangers have made no secret of the need to source investment via buying low and selling high and over the next few windows will the Ibrox club’s patience be truly tested in this regard.

There have been bids for key players over the last few windows but it’s clear Rangers gambled on 55 by keeping the core of their squad together. And it worked.

Rangers were always going to have to invest to compete with Celtic and after a period of money being ploughed into the club, something will have to give.

Securing that first title since the events of 2012 was always going to be huge, to do so before our rivals won their Holy Grail of 10IAR made it even bigger.

Those backing the club deserve huge credit for having the courage and patience to do so to land a psychological blow on Scottish football which will genuinely echo through history.

Rangers v Aberdeen - Scottish Premiership
Rangers held on to key players and it paid off as the club lifted 55 last season. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But the reality of player trading is something which has been impacted both by Covid-19 and by an impending flurry of first team contracts coming to an end over the next 18 months.

Rangers will have to sell the likes of Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent, Joe Aribo, Ryan Jack, and Filip Helander over the next two windows or sign them down on new contracts.

Otherwise, they seriously risk losing these high-value assets for nothing, something made harder by a market that has slowed down during the pandemic.

The next two windows in particular will see Ross Wilson have his work cut out when it comes to the first-team squad and that no more concerns these five players than anyone else.

St. Mirren FC v Rangers FC - Cinch Scottish Premiership
Rangers will have to sell the likes of Alfredo Morelos over the next two windows as part of a player trading model or risk losing them for nothing. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

If Rangers are to go on to have a sustainable player trading model, then one suspects one or two of these names will be the first Ibrox stars to prop it up.

However, with contracts running down and the market yet to get fully firing after Covid-19, the apparent necessity to sell is complicated by their situation.

Rangers are well aware of the risks of letting key first teamers run down their current deals with one in particular now only a matter of months away from being able to sign a contract elsewhere.

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