It has been a transfer long in the making.

Oscar Cortes’ move to Rangers in the January transfer window, on an initial loan with the option to buy, has been extended until the summer of 2025. This time the clause following the culmination of that loan spell from Lens is an obligatitary one. The Colombian will sign a four-year contract with Rangers next summer running until 2029.

Cortes was a player Rangers had tracked for a considerable amount of time before his initial move from Ligue 1 outfit Lens. Despite the frustration from all sides that injury limited the winger’s impact last season, there is now excitement at securing one of Colombian football’s primary talents long-term who has already received a senior cap.

READ MORE: Check all the Rangers transfer news & rumours before the transfer window

Sources close to the move state that first contact was made between Rangers and Cortes’ representatives long before his move from Colombian outfit Millonarios to Lens in the summer of 2023. Lines of communication had been established for over two years by the time Cortes arrived in Glasgow at the start of this year with the youngster’s performances in Colombia, and for the Under-20 national team, attracting attention. Millonarios and Lens share an owner which always made the French outfit the likeliest to secure his signature last summer.

Following the arrival of Philippe Clement at Rangers in October 2023 there was a need to add quality and depth on either wing, given the squad built that summer was tailored towards a different style of football. Much like Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Clement had inherited a cohort designed to provide width from full-back, lacking out-and-out wide attackers.

The injury sustained by Abdallah Sima on international duty with Senegal in January heightened the need to sign a winger in the January window. It was a showcase of Rangers’ poor luck on the injury front last season that Sima’s short-term replacement and intended long-term wide partner Cortes would suffer a similar fate only weeks later.

Cortes, 20, started brightly at Ibrox alongside fellow January arrival Mohamed Diomande. The winger only missed out on the Europa League squad due to the number of changes Clement was forced to make elsewhere. Cortes started his Rangers career on the left but is also capable of operating from the right, where he’s played plenty of minutes for Colombia Under-20s and Millanarios. Circumstances dictated that Clement was never able to field his two first-choice wide options, Sima and Cortes, together.

At the end of February, the winger’s season would end prematurely after pulling up holding his hamstring with a “severe” injury suffered at Rugby Park in a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock. Clement would later say: "It's a strange one with the action he did to have an injury like that.”

Cortes fits the profile of player director of football recruitment Nils Koppen was tasked with bringing to Ibrox when appointed late last year. Much like Diomande there is a belief that the winger is not a project player but one ready to make an impact now, with the potential to turn a healthy profit in the future. Like Diomande, Cortes joins on a loan-to-buy deal.

READ MORE: Inside Nils Koppen's Rangers move: Beating competition, PSV buys and a new approach

January presented Rangers with the right time to move for Cortes who was struggling for minutes in France. Talks were held between the parties at the Transferroom summit in Lisbon towards the end of 2023, although the relationships to make this transfer happen were long-established by that point and that conversation was far from a first. 

It’s believed Koppen knew Cortes’ representatives from his time at PSV when operating in similar transfer markets. Rangers’ recruitment department first connected with the player’s representatives around the time of an impressive Under-20 Sudamericano campaign, the South American Championship, at the start of 2023. Cortes was a standout for Colombia scoring three goals as his nation finished third on home soil.

Transferroom is an increasingly popular transfer summit commonly referred to as the ‘speed dating’ of football transfers with clubs and representatives afforded 15-minute slots across a packed day to talk transfer business. 

Koppen said speaking to the Rangers website in February on the move: “Oscar had been on our radar for a long time and was one of the best performers at the South American under-20 Championship. He quickly became an important player for Millonarios in the Copa Libertadores and made the move to Europe.”

It was always likely that Cortes would remain at Ibrox even after sustaining an injury. Sources insisted talks were progressing well towards the end of last week towards extending the attacker's stay in Glasgow. A key factor was his desire to remain at Ibrox beyond the summer with the young player settled and enjoying working under Clement. Cortes remained at the Rangers training centre to work for an extra week after the season ended before returning home to visit family in Colombia, to try and afford himself the best chance possible of making up for lost time.