It was never going to be smooth sailing for Rangers in this crucial summer transfer window and the reaction from fans on social media has certainly raised the temperature in the pool all us Rangers observers swim in.

Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo, a crucial trio, all now have a year left on their deals. Transfer rumours are swirling. Big decisions are in the offing. Fans want answers.

While the Connor Goldson contract scenario shows that nothing should ever be ruled out in football, you'd have to imagine that for at least one of the three key men mentioned, we are in the final knockings of their Rangers career.

If you are going to lose them, the least painful has to be Joe Aribo who also happens to be in the midst of a maelstrom of media interest.

There can be no doubt the Nigerian has been a brilliant signing, in many ways the poster boy for what Rangers' transfer business can be. Arriving for a significantly reduced, bargain £300,000 fee from Charlton due to the infamous cross-border loophole between Scotland and England, he turned up in Govan with warnings from his old manager Lee Bowyer ringing in his ears.

Bowyer said in 2019: “It is about progression for him. So it’s a shame if he gets pushed to somewhere where it is not going to benefit him in his football career.  If he goes to Rangers that is not the right place for him to go for his football career."

Now an established Nigeria international, a Europa League finalist and league champion, Aribo has certainly put paid to his old gaffer's notions. And then some.

It's been a clever deal by the club and fits with the model to bring young, talented players in, develop them, benefit on the pitch and sell at a profit. It's something the rivals on the other side of the Clyde have done well over the years, allowing them to reinvest.

Rangers have been criticised for their failure to create a similar system as a way to bring financial stability. And that's because, simply put, there are only two ways for Rangers to thrive financially while they remain in the relative financial straightjacket of the Scottish Premiership.

  1. To enjoy the riches on offer in the Champions League group stages every year.
  2. Ensure a functioning transfer model in the mould of other huge European clubs in smaller leagues. Think Ajax, Porto and Benfica. ​​

But there's a key part that's often missed in this binary discussion that often centres around the quantum of any fees in and out. And that's what a player gives on their journey from one signature to another - a key part of any transfer. 

READ MORE: Rangers can't let players walk for nothing and selling Alfredo Morelos might be right for everyone - Stevie Clifford

Aribo's contribution, from Braga at Ibrox to Frankfurt in Seville, has been significant. He's developed significantly over three years as a professional. In an ideal world, nobody would want to see him leave.

But while he's a terrific player, with obvious power and wonderful close control, it's also fair to say he's yet to truly exert himself on a full season.

Of course, he threatened to do that last term. Giovanni van Bronkhorst's decision to play the talented baller as a no.10 resulted in his best spell of form as a Ranger. Sadly, it was not to last and most agree he returned from the African Cup Of Nations looking fatigued, an issue the player would allude to himself.

He said: "Failing to qualify for the World Cup was a huge disappointment for me too. It was hard for me coming back to Rangers after that for some time."

And while Kent and Morelos have delivered over extended periods, there's a nagging feeling Aribo hasn't quite taken the team by the scruff of the neck in the same way. Part of that might be Rangers' system where he has found himself used as essentially a utility player, filling in up front, in wide midfield and even left-back.

Ironically, it's probably that flexibility that makes him such an attractive option in the transfer market. Premier League Crystal Palace are interested, while Fulham are also in the mix. The player is a London lad, a definite home bird and a move back to the big smoke to be surrounded by family and playing in the world's top league has obvious appeal.

While an official proposal is yet to be solidified it looks likely to come and if someone makes a bid it will be considered. Crucially though, Rangers' run in Europe means finances are robust and players will only move on if their valuation is met. The club turned down a risible bid from Watford for Borna Barisic because it didn't meet their quantum and the days when elite leagues could potentially pick up an undervalued bargain from Ibrox are over. And while the market will dictate the player's worth, it's safe to say he won't be leaving on the cheap.

The club took a lot of stick for their strategy with key defender Goldson but it did ultimately prove the right one for all parties in the end. Many will criticise the management of contracts that has seen four of the team's five top players run so close to the end of their deals and that's understandable. But dig deeper and there have been obvious issues at play.

Nobody could have foreseen Covid and the effect it had on middle-market transfers between £4m and £20m was stark. There can be no doubt that a pandemic-free world would have seen different management of ins and outs.

We have also seen a larger trend of players running down their deals. This isn't just a Rangers phenomenon. Look at Pogba, Messi, Mbappe et al. The market conditions have changed the system to an extent. The ever-increasing money pot required to extend big players to bigger deals simply hasn't been there, even at the very apex of the game.

The club also face a double-edged sword in their continental success. The run to the Europa League final has massively improved the profile of the entire team and players and their agents are well aware of the situation. Suddenly, new and interesting options are on the horizon that have made renewal discussions more difficult. It's been a while since Rangers players were fielding interest from Bundesliga or Serie A clubs but this is the new reality after coming within a penalty kick from European glory.

All these elements are factors at play as Rangers look to emerge stronger to wrest the title back from Celtic.

The success or failure of that quest won't be known for many, many months. It's important to remember that were are still in June, players will leave, others will arrive and the core of the side denied immortality by one errant kick of the ball will remain in place.