It’s the time of the year when speculation intensifies and unfounded rumours emerge from nowhere, yet it’s all gone very quiet for Rabbi Matondo. 

The Welsh international was one of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s marquee signings last summer when he arrived from Schalke in a deal worth in excess of £2 million. 

Matondo joined after the best season of his career on-loan in Belgium with Cecile Brugge but his debut campaign at Ibrox was extremely underwhelming. 

The 22-year-old missed several months through injury but he failed to score across his 28 appearances in all competitions, registering five assists. 

After some promising displays in pre-season, Matondo failed to replicate those performance levels in competitive action and he ultimately lost his place in Van Bronckhorst’s starting eleven. 

Attacking players are always judged on their numbers and Matondo’s output was nowhere near the level required at Rangers. 

It’s imperative to focus on actual minutes played rather than appearances, as that can skew reality, and Matondo’s four assists in under seven full games in the Scottish Premiership paints a better picture but improvement is required.

While his debut season in Glasgow was disappointing, Matondo was adapting to a new league and country at a relatively young age and he’s likely to be afforded another season to prove he has a long-term future at the club.

Speaking less than a month after his arrival, Beale talked up Matondo’s ability whilst suggesting that the winger was struggling with confidence.  

"He's a young boy," he said. "He's an international, played in the Bundesliga, played in the Belgian league, he's here for a reason.

"He's maybe having a crisis of confidence, it would have been lovely if he had scored that goal, for him and for everyone.

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"He's our player, we trust him, we bought him for a reason and we will help him out the other side of it.

"He's one of us so I think at this moment in time it is clear to see that he is struggling for confidence and rhythm and that is my job and his team-mates to pick him up because we believe there is a player there."

It’s difficult to draw conclusions over how Beale views Matondo given he picked up an unspecified injury within a week of his comments on his confidence. 

Matondo made cameo appearances in three of Beale’s first four games in charge before missing over three months through injury. 

He provided an assist against St Mirren on his return and started three of the post-split fixtures when Beale switched his attention to next season and allowed fringe players an opportunity to impress. 

Despite some encouraging moments, Matondo failed to register a goal contribution and his productivity contrasts with Fashion Sakala - the most similar player at Rangers in terms of profile. 

Sakala’s unpredictability can be incredibly frustrating but he’s proven to be relatively effective and his attacking output since Beale’s arrival have been impressive.

Sakala started 19 of 23 league games under Beale and he responded positively to his manager’s trust.

The Zambian international scored 11 goals and provided six assists since Beale replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst and the majority - 10 from 17 -  of his goal contributions came when Rangers were either drawing or in a losing position. 

As displayed in the attacking radar’s below, Sakala outperforms Matondo in almost every attacking metric and he’s in the top percentile for xG, shots and touches in the opposition box.

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Considering both players will be fighting for a place in Beale’s plans next season, it’s clear to see why Sakala has been preferred and there’s significant question marks surrounding Matondo’s future. 

Firstly, Beale is likely to deploy split-strikers ahead of a No.10 next season and that doesn’t truly suit a natural winger like Matondo.

The Welshman and Sakala started together as split-strikers against Celtic and the latter provided the bigger threat, getting on the scoresheet in the second half. 

Secondly, Rangers are actively looking to strengthen their attacking options with at least two more signings expected. 

A loan deal for Abdallah Sima is nearing completion, while there’s genuine interest in Cyriel Dessers, Danilo and Josh Maja. 

Sam Lammers, Kemar Roofe and Antonio Colak are already in the building and Matondo will realistically be the sixth or seventh choice up front. 

That will naturally lead to questions over his future and if a suitable offer arrives then Rangers will undoubtedly consider that given he’s unlikely to feature regularly. 

As Beale stated previously, Matondo is still young and his £11m move to the Bundesliga shows how highly rated he was. 

There will be a major rebuild this summer at Ibrox and it’s crucial that Matondo shows up well in pre-season to try and force his way into Beale’s plans - even if that currently looks unrealistic.