Rangers' Champions League could determine future of Morelos

As the latest round of transfer speculation surrounding him kicks into gear, Alfredo Morelos has had more spare time than he would have liked this month to ponder his future.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 5:01 pm

The Rangers striker has managed just nine minutes of action for Colombia so far at the Copa America in Brazil, courtesy of a late substitute appearance against Peru in one of their four group matches.

Morelos will hope for greater involvement as the tournament reaches the knockout stage, where Colombia will play their quarter-final fixture on Saturday night at 11pm UK time.

But perhaps his mind is already wandering towards his return to Glasgow amid increasing chatter over his potential sale by the Scottish champions this summer.

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Alfredo Morelos
Alfredo Morelos

Having resisted attempts by French club Lille to sign Morelos a year ago, Rangers are now facing serious interest in his services from Porto. According to sources in Portugal, a five-year contract is already on the table in principle for the 25-year-old if a deal can be agreed with Rangers.

Porto initially believed they might land Morelos for a fee in the region of €12 million, but have been informed that is considerably short of the valuation placed on him by Rangers, who rejected an offer closer to €18 million when Lille were in hot pursuit last summer.

Morelos has two years left on his Ibrox contract and has consistently made no secret of his desire to eventually move to a bigger stage, while there has always been an acceptance within the Rangers hierarchy that the time will come when they cash in on a player they signed for just £1 million from HJK Helsinki in 2017.

Getting that timing right is the key issue as far as Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is concerned.

In the short term, he will certainly want to have Morelos at his disposal for Rangers’ bid to reach the group stage of the Champions League which will begin on August 3 or 4.

Gerrard is already without Kemar Roofe because of a four-match UEFA suspension, while new recruit Fashion Sakala will still be settling in. While Gerrard has other options up front in the shape of Cedric Itten and veteran player-coach Jermain Defoe, there’s no question he will want Morelos leading the line in those European qualifiers.

It’s the stage where Morelos has proved his credentials most consistently, becoming Rangers’ all-time record scorer in Europe with 23 goals. Two of those came against Porto in the 2019-20 Europa League group stage, the equaliser in a 1-1 draw in the Estadio Do Dragao and the opener in a 2-0 win at Ibrox. It is no surprise he has been on Porto coach Sergio Conceicao’s radar ever since.

Porto will go directly into the group stage of the Champions League, meaning they can wait until right up to the 31 August transfer deadline to try and complete a deal for Morelos.

Two of his Colombian team-mates, midfielder Mateus Uribe and winger Luis Diaz, have been with Porto since 2019 and it’s a potential move with obvious appeal in terms of lifestyle, weather and culture.

From Gerrard’s perspective, another full season with Morelos in his squad would be the preferred option as he looks to retain the Premiership title. It may all depend on whether Rangers qualify for the Champions League.

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