Cyriel Dessers has finally signed on the dotted line, as Michael Beale's rebuild continues to take shape.

The 28-year-old striker, who’s played a handful of times for the Nigerian national team, has signed from Cremonese after their relegation to Seria B. Having impressed the season before at Feyenoord, Dessers has spent the majority of his professional career in the Netherlands.

Something of a late bloomer, he starred in the 2021/22 UEFA Conference League having previously impressed with Utrecht and Heracles.

A full-time move to Feyenoord, the league champions in 22/23, never materialised despite a strong loan spell and during a difficult season when Cremenose finished 19th, the forward netted six goals.

So, what type of player is he and will his move to Ibrox work?

What does the data say?

Dessers’ league data between the 21/22 and 22/23 season is hugely contrasting. However, the drop in numerous areas is likely the result of playing for one of the Eredivisie’s dominant teams compared to one of Serie A’s weaker outfits.

Let’s look at the numbers from his Feyenoord spell first.

  • What is this telling me?

In the 2021/22 league season, Dessers scored eight league goals in just 13.4 90 minutes. He averaged pretty high on xG, shots and touches in the box with 90+ percentile ratings. Remember, percentile ratings are taken in comparison to the rest of the league.

That’s mirrored somewhat in his xG/Shot number, a metric which evaluates the average quality of shot taken. The forward isn't lethal with each effort but does offer a healthy return and is very active in the penalty area. Only averaging three more passes per 90, 14.15, than touches in the opposition box, 11.23.

His shot map from that league season depicts good shooting locations overall.

Finally, the forward’s off-ball numbers also impress with a 90+ percentile for pressure regains, winning the ball back when attempted, alongside an average of 18.3 pressures per 90. As will be elaborated upon throughout, Dessers is an active and willing participant off the ball.

What about last season in Italy?

  • What is this telling me?

This chart looks a whole lot less exciting, but don’t let that alone put you off. Remember, Dessers was turning out for the second-worst side in the division, thus afforded fewer opportunities to shoot, occupy the box and apply aggressive pressure. He took one less shot for Cremonese in the league than for Feyenoord the previous year despite playing an extra five matches. 

Even still, his tendency to occupy the opposition penalty box is evident with a 91 percentile rating. 

If a move to Ibrox were to materialise, it’s Dessers' spell with Feyenoord which holds far more relevance, given he’d be joining a side for whom majority possession and chances are guaranteed.

A look at his shot map alone in Italy compared to his spell with Feyenoord throws up some interesting points.


The forward demonstrated a tendency to shoot from wider angles, given he was often creating chances for himself in transition.

The slight xG overperformance in each season is demonstrative of a strong finisher capable of finding the net with both feet.

Let’s take a closer look at what type of player Dessers is in open play, alongside running the rule over the style of goals he scores and work off the ball.

How does he contribute in open play?

Speaking recently on the topic of strikers, Michael Beale said: “Every player must take part in every minute of the game. I like the forwards not to be one position but interchange and move around and have a lot of freedom.”

We’ve seen the manager increasingly utilise wide split strikers since returning to the club, most obvious on the final day of the season, and move away from the metronomic deep-lying Alfredo Morelos role previously favoured.

Dessers could conceivably fit this desire for flexible front three players, capable of playing as a central or wide No.9. He’s agile enough to fall out of the target man category and able to carry the ball with technical dribbling or run the channels, effective using his strong frame but not reliant on physicality.

More often than not when Dessers looks to drop down a line he’ll favour playing wall passes, dropping in search of creating an overload. These two examples are taken from an eventual 2-2 draw against PSV, with Feyenoord coming from two goals down both scored by Dessers.

Even when space behind him is afforded, the attacker usually combines rather than turning and driving forwards.

His goal in this same match against PSV was demonstrative of the forward not always dropping to receive, however. Recognising after his side have regained the ball that a run in behind, leading to a goal, was far more profitable.

In Italy, although there were fewer examples of Dessers dropping down against deep defences, there was a greater requirement for the forward to make vertical runs from out wide. Hypothetically, this would be important under Beale who’s increasingly used his forwards in a similar vein.

Take the final game of the season against Hearts as an example when Beale started with a forward three of Morelos, Fashion Sakala and Todd Cantwell. The former two were situated as wide forwards with Cantwell breaking through the middle, as was the case for his goal.

Look at the successful passes played into Sakala and Morelos on that day, neither were situated centrally with both far more active down the sides.

Dessers is comfortable cutting inside on either flank and could be effective when starting centrally or attempting these vertical runs from wide. He isn’t an immobile forward incapable of carrying the ball.

In this example last season against Udenise, the striker receives on the turn down the side of the defence and cleverly chops inside before attempting a shot.

Rangers Review:

Earlier in the same game he’s able to run the channel in transition and shift onto his left side before cracking the post.

In both of these examples, Dessers uses either foot to shoot, dribble and take control. Strengthening the claims of versatility and solution-finding on both sides, allowing him greater opportunity to outplay.

Dessers isn’t necessarily exceptional with any one trait but is comfortable across a range of activities outside the penalty box.

What about in the penalty box?

When watching Dessers finish, his ability to use either foot becomes clear. Comparing shot maps from his two previous seasons again, a spell in Italy featured far fewer efforts from within the dimensions of the six-yard box given when playing for Feyenoord, his side spent more time in the penalty box.

Dessers isn’t the cleanest of ball strikers even if, especially when playing for Feyenoord, he wasn’t one to snatch at every shot and scored a few goals following clever dummies to buy extra space or work a better shooting position.

He displays a clear tendency to finish across the goalkeeper when on his left side, favouring power to try and access the corners.

Two matches against Slavia Prague, Feyenoord met them in the group stage and knockouts in the Conference League, offers a good range of Dessers’ classic finishes.

His first in the away knockout tie featured a strong run off the left and finish into the far corner…

Alongside a goal earned after bearing down on the goalkeeper and intercepting possession…

Whereas in the group stage, Dessers scored following this fantastic swivel and shot, resisting shooting on his stronger foot to work a better chance…

He’s able to feint his way towards chances quite regularly, aided by this ability to finish on either side…

With left-footed strikes across the keeper a regular feature.

Finally, Dessers isn’t overly dominant in the air but standing at over six foot, he’s able to win his fair share of crosses.

An asset without the ball?

Plenty of Dessers’ goals come as a result of the attacker chasing lost causes or pressing the goalkeeper.

Take this strike against Marseille in the Conference League last season, when Dessers earned a goal by pressing all on his own.

That’s not a one-off. The Nigerian international has scored plenty of goals earned by hard work, endeavour and the chasing of seemingly lost causes. It’s a trait that also extends to open play.

Beale wants energy on and off the ball in the final third where players at the top end start the team’s defensive work.

It might seem a prerequisite to be active off the ball but plenty can be said for an attacker who’s as happy exerting energy out of possession as he is in it.

Dessers doesn’t allow defences to settle and when there’s an opportunity to split the pitch in half and attempt to regain the ball, he doesn’t just close gaps but always tries to regain the ball.

Rangers Review:

Does he fit in under Beale?

Dessers has the diversity of qualities needed to be a key forward player for Beale.

He can contribute outside the box but clearly, the numbers show his predominant area of activity to be the penalty box.

Dessers is able to play with his back to goal, twisting and turning opponents, while also possessing the pace, power and technique to attack from the flanks, boasting a hybrid profile that affords variation. 

Although six goals last season doesn't grab attention, eight in just over 13 90 minutes playing in the Eredivisie isn't a bad return. 

Finally, with hard work and intelligent pressing off the ball, he could clearly fit the bill for Beale when Rangers don't have the ball.

Rangers need clinical players who they’re able to count on to win the boxes next season - Dessers can certainly be that man.