So it’s that time of year again, the end of the season is nigh and the beautiful, crazy summer of transfer rumours has begun. Whilst they never really go away, a summer like this, where there’s no major international tournament for European teams to be involved in, seems to find us all the more hungry for the latest in agent manipulation, seemingly crazy signings or even just a car parked outside of a training ground. We even have Harry Redknapp back in the mix, so there are twenty midfielders just waiting to be signed!
For Rangers, it’s a big summer. Pedro Caixinha has all but stated that he can’t work with the squad he has, and many of our current players won’t get a chance next season to change his mind. As such, we’ll be looking at another summer where a lot of signings are required, and we’ve had a number of names linked already. Below is a look at many of those, and my opinion on whether we should sign them, but firstly I think it’s worth considering the overall strategy.
We were told around the time Caixinha was hired that the Director of Football role would be prioritised, yet months on we seemingly have made no progress. We lost out on our top three targets, and rumours suggest we’ve hired an external agency to take over the process for this hire – you have to wonder why this wasn’t done in the first place, and just how suitable that is given the circumstances at the club right now. All of this directly impacts upon our transfer strategy. I’ve not doubt Pedro knows some good players from elsewhere, but we’re now in the very situation a Director of Football is supposed to avoid, one where a new manager is controlling the signing strategy for the most part and if it turns out he’s not going to be here long, the next guy is left with players who were signed as part of Pedro’s plan rather than the long-term plan of the club. We’ve seen what short-termism does to us, so it’s a concern that we’ve let ourselves get to this stage again.
Anyway, in no particular order, here’s a list of players I’ve heard from various sources we’ve been linked with:
Ryan Jack – this one has caused a bit of a stir in the past couple of days, but it seems pretty certain he’s signing on a free transfer this summer with how things have gone. Whilst I don’t think he’s where we want to be in terms of ability on an individual level, he does offer more balance and strength to our midfield than anyone currently in the squad. He’s 25, got loads of first team experience for that age, has obvious leadership abilities and knows the game well up here. He’s absolutely worth signing as things stand.
Rashid Sumaila – This looked like the most obvious of our transfers this summer. From what I’ve read, Pedro is his godfather (not sure if that’s true), and he was seemingly out of contract. It’s since been confirmed he signed another three years before going on loan to Pedro’s old club, so he’d cost us a fair bit now. As such, I’m not sure if that puts this one in doubt – he’s a good age in terms of being able to improve as a player (you’re not past that once you turn 21, not by a long way), and has the potential to be an international player and worth a decent amount if a future sale is in mind, but if he’s going to cost a decent fee which will impact upon the signing of other players, especially ones who may be more ready to step straight in, I don’t know if we’d want to pursue that right now. If he’s affordable and doesn’t hurt the overall plan, I think he’s worth bringing in.
Bruno Alves – if this link has any substance, and quotes from Alves suggest it may have, I’d be ecstatic. I know we wouldn’t be getting Alves at his prime, but he’d bring so much in terms of ability, experience and attitude, and we badly need it. I don’t care that he’s 35, or that his wage may be a little higher than we’d like for a player of that age, or that he can’t be sold on – he would offer loads on and off the park. Get him signed!
Carlos Izquierdoz – an Argentinian defender who is captain of Santos, one of Caixinha’s previous clubs, and at 28 he’s hitting a good age for a centre-half. I can’t say I know much about him in terms of ability, but reading around he does seem quite highly rated and Pedro knows him well. I don’t see this one happening, and the player seems to have said himself he’s not wanting the move.
Jose Abella – another player Caixinha knows from Santos, a right back at the age of 23 from Mexico. Again, I don’t know much abut him, and I’d like to see Tavernier stay and hopefully play next to better players, but we’ll need competition in that area of the pitch as I expect Hodson will leave. No idea if the reported transfer fee of £2.5m would be required, and that would seem a lot in our current situation, with so many players needing to be signed.
Ben Heneghan – no. Just…no.
Stevie Whittaker – let me start by saying that I have no issue with signing players who have played for us previously if we believe that player will improve us. I also hold different views on the Whittaker and Naismith situation than most would seem to. Despite all of that, I wouldn’t want us to sign Whittaker, and it’s purely because I think his wage would be a hindrance to the overall requirements. He’s a better player than Tavernier at right back, and he’s comfortable in a few positions, but given how much of a dent he’d make in the wage budget, I don’t think he’s capable of making enough of an impact to justify his signing.
Graham Dorrans – I’m a big fan of Dorrans, but I do recognise he’s not the player he was a few years ago. He would cost a fair bit in wages even if he can get a release from Norwich, but if he was motivated again (I think he’s lost that to some extent the last few years) and being a fan of the club, he is someone who I feel has the level of ability to make him a worthwhile signing. I’d love it to happen, but I think he’s becoming another Alan Smith in terms of being linked every year with no substance.
Stevie Naismith – see the comments on Dorrans above. Naismith would be a cracking signing and is the sort of attacking player we don’t have right now. I know he’s a bit older, and people go on about injuries despite him not struggling that way for years, but he has everything we need right now and can reasonably expect to afford.
Kyle Lafferty – I’m not a fan of Lafferty personally, but he does have ability. I just don’t think he has any sort of brain, footballing or otherwise. He’d be a free transfer, certainly a better player than the likes of Waghorn or Garner, so I’m torn. I wouldn’t want to sign him, I can see why so many would like to.
Jason Cummings – one of the biggest issues we’ve had since administration, is the fact that good Scottish talent has just gone to Celtic. Whilst we may not have signed them, we’d have at least been in the running for players like Armstrong had we not suffered those problems, and although many seem to write off Scottish players as a matter of course, but Cummings isn’t even 21 yet and has a cracking goalscoring record. Saying “he’s only done it in the Championship” ignores his big goals in cup games, for Scotland U21s, and the fact that the Championship has been a stronger league than usual for a few years now. He’s a bit daft in general but has a hell of a lot of confidence in his own ability, and the potential to be a cracking player. I’d like us to sign him if possible.
Sam Nicholson – he’s out of contract at Hearts pretty soon, and would only cost a tribunal fee plus his wages, which I don’t imagine would be huge. He’s shown ability in the past, but his injury this season definitely held up his progress, as has playing for a Hearts side which is struggling at the moment. As per Cummings, though, he’s a good Scottish talent who could do well elsewhere, so definitely worth looking at.
Louis Moult – I’ve been told our interest in Moult is pretty concrete, and also that he’s a bit of an ar*ehole around the club at Motherwell. He definitely has the ability to score goals, but he’s a focal point at Motherwell and I don’t think he’s good enough to be one for Rangers. Not a player I’d be too interested in signing.
Paulinho – a 24-year-old Portuguese player, the sort you’d expect us to be linked to with our manager. I know very little about him in terms of how he plays, but he’s had a good season in terms of goals and is again at a good age. I don’t know if he’ll be one we sign, but I do expect a couple of players of this sort of profile to be brought in.
Welthon – a 24-year-old Brazilian forward currently playing in Portugal who has a cracking Youtube video, even better than Sebo’s! He looks strong, good on the ball and able to score a variety of goals, but we’ve no idea if the interest in him is even real or if he’s just a player plucked out of the air because he plays in Portugal.
Djaniny – Another Santos player, he’s followed Caixinha around at a couple of clubs, so many expect he’ll be one we look to sign as Pedro wants players he knows well. He’s 26, tall and looks pretty strong in terms of his style of play, but he’s not one for scoring a lot of goals, and the fact he plays wide so often, suggests he’s not a natural striker. As I said, I expect at least a couple of players that Pedro knows from either previous clubs or from their time in Portugal, and Djaniny is potentially the most likely of them all.
Kenny McLean – 25-years-old, had a cracking couple of seasons for Aberdeen, is a Rangers fan as a youngster, and looks to have plenty more to come. He’d offer more than Halliday, Forrester or Windass, and would be a good option on the left-hand side for those games where we go 4-4-2 and try to play a bit more compact. I think he’d be a good signing, but Aberdeen wouldn’t be easy to deal with.
There have been other names mentioned, but not from sources I’d consider to be decent, and I have no doubt that we’ll see players come in that no one has mentioned yet. Is there anyone you’d like to see us sign that seems realistic? Have you any opinions on the names above? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!