EVEN during his injury-enforced absence as Rangers reached the final of the Europa League last season, the sight of Alfredo Morelos joining in the celebrations with the squad immediately brought a smile to the face of all supporters.

Morelos has become an icon during his five-year spell at the club, evolving into a goalscoring force that has elevated the club to lofty heights. Through four different managers, the Colombian has been a constant while the cast around him has changed.

However, with just a year left on his current contract the decision-makers within the corridors at Ibrox face a dilemma with a number of clubs reportedly circling. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and the club's hierarchy will be weighing up the cost of a potential summer departure if they can't agree a new deal.

The Rangers Review has previously argued that van Bronckhorst was overly reliant on the goalscoring prowess of Morelos during the early months of his reign.

Indeed, when the league paused for the winter break last season the forward was responsible for 28 percent of the team’s total xG until that point in the campaign, with only Tony Watt’s contribution for Motherwell in the first half of the season coming close to Morelos’ efforts.

Rangers Review:

When you contrast those figures to Celtic’s most prolific goalscorer across the city, Rangers are evidently more reliant on a single player in front of the goal. Kyogo had posted a higher xG per 90 minutes than Morelos at the halfway point last season, yet he was only responsible for less than 20% of Celtic’s total xG.

It meant that when the Japanese forward effectively had his season ended on Boxing Day when he pulled up with a hamstring injury that the foundation of Celtic’s goalscoring exploits were not considerably rocked.

READ MORE: Tyrhys Dolan Rangers transfer scouting: The nimble Blackburn winger with 'untapped potential'

Van Bronckhorst deliberately restored Morelos to his previous all-encompassing role upon his appointment, with the attacker visibly suffering the impact of Steven Gerrard placing the shackles on his freedom in attack. The Dutchman was immediately rewarded with a goalscoring burst.

Rangers Review:

After missing the 3-0 defeat to Celtic while on international duty, Morelos continued his goalscoring exploits through to February, which included his performances against both Edinburgh sides at Ibrox.

Rangers Review:

However, he would soon suffer a dip in front of goal during the month which was ended with his injury, with Morelos’ total xG plummeting from 4.1 to 1.8 despite playing a game more.

Rangers Review:

Within that month was the scrappy 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox, as well as the 2-1 win over Dundee at Dens Park that required a late Connor Goldson intervention. The striker's form strengthened the idea that his goalscoring output was more causation than correlation relative to the overall form of Rangers.

It brought back memories of his post-winter break drop-off in 2019/20.

He'd enjoyed a steady output of goals in the first half of the campaign – which proved to be Rangers’ most sustainable run of form since their return to the Scottish Premiership – netting 12 goals from an xG of 8.3.

Rangers Review:

However, those underlying goalscoring numbers were nosedived at the turn of the year, with Morelos netting just once from a mere 15 attempts at goal. His form effectively prompted Rangers into conceding their Scottish Premiership title quest before Covid-19 brought the season to a halt in March.

Rangers Review:

Hence, Gerrard tweaked his role the following season to reduce the side's goalscoring reliance. Not only had Morelos proven a disciplinary risk during his season-and-a-half under the former Liverpool captain, but his fitness was a question mark as he continued to push the boundaries of his own body.

READ MORE: Ex-Rangers coach Michael Beale reveals classy Steven Gerrard reaction after accepting QPR job

Gerrard sanctioned the signings of Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten in the summer of 2020 to supplement his striker options, while Ianis Hagi arrived on a permanent deal after he had shown an eye for a goal in his brief appearances in a Rangers jersey in the previous campaign.

By having a narrow front three, it allowed Gerrard to station Roofe on the right-hand side to good effect in the first half of the title-winning campaign in 2020/21.

However, van Bronckhorst prefers to play with his wingers wide in a 4-3-3, which reduces the central support for the No.9. Instead, there is an onus on the No.10s and No.8s to break beyond Morelos. There have been fleeting signs that the move has been a success, especially when analysing Glen Kamara’s strike against St. Johnstone last season.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

All in all, it leaves van Bronckhorst in a dilemma. The Dutchman will be keen to keep the core parts of his squad together as he looks to reclaim the Scottish Premiership title and Morelos’ goals are undoubtedly a part of that.

Any sale would require Rangers to move swiftly to secure a striker capable of replicating the output they'd be losing. 

Equally, however, Morelos’ departure could allow van Bronckhorst to boost the spread of goals throughout the team. 

For now, Morelos remains a considerable positive for Rangers heading into next season. Managing his peaks and troughs could define van Bronckhorst’s second season at Ibrox.