Stick or twist? The 12 first-team squad dilemmas facing Rangers ahead of the new season

As he counts down to his first full campaign as Rangers manager, Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be hoping to maximise both the strength and depth of his playing resources.

More new faces, to add to the capture of Scotland defender John Souttar from Hearts, will arrive during the summer transfer window. Just as crucial for van Bronckhorst, as he sets his sights on reclaiming the Premiership title from Celtic, will be the contractual status of a host of his established key men.

The retention of Connor Goldson, with the defensive pillar of the Ibrox side confounding widespread anticipation of his exit by signing a new four-year deal earlier this month, was a hugely significant boost for van Bronckhorst. But the longer-term future of many other players remains uncertain.

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Allan McGregor

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst is preparing for his first full season in charge of the Ibrox club. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
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The 40-year-old goalkeeper is out of contract this month and there was strong speculation, fuelled by what appeared to be a sentimentally-driven late substitute appearance in the Scottish Cup final win over Hearts at Hampden in May, that he was poised to call time on his playing career.

But it now seems as if McGregor is poised to extend his storied time with Rangers for another season and continue to joust for the number one position with Jon McLaughlin.

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Robbie McCrorie

The Scotland squad goalkeeper has just been linked with an eyebrow-raising move to Manchester United. At 24, McCrorie is now at the stage where he will hope to be more than just a back-up player and certainly not third choice. He has a year left on his contract and Rangers, who have been linked with alternative goalkeeping targets, may be happy to move him on this summer.

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Defender Calvin Bassey's outstanding form for Rangers last season has attracted the attention of several clubs throughout Europe. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Calvin Bassey

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The Nigerian international defender’s form for Rangers in the second half of last season was a revelation. Bassey flourished spectacularly under van Bronckhorst’s tutelage and has been equally impressive when deployed at left-back, left wing-back or in central defence.

A number of leading English and European clubs have been alerted to the 22-year-old’s rich potential and he is probably now the biggest financial asset in Rangers’ first team squad. Bassey has two years left on his current contract and Rangers supporters are keen to see him extend that deal.

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Filip Helander

Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos, who is going into the final year of his current contract at the club, is the subject of interest from Spanish side Sevilla. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
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Since his £3.5 million arrival from Bologna in 2019, Helander’s time at Rangers has been regularly disrupted by injury. The Swedish international saw his season cut short in April by a recurrence of a foot problem.

When fit, the 29-year-old has produced some impressive performances for the Ibrox side. But with just a year left on his contract, Rangers may be tempted to cash in on any interest which emerges in Helander.

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Nikola Katic

The Croatian international’s career is at a crossroads following his return to Rangers this summer after a successful loan spell back in his homeland with Hajduk Split which saw him make 25 appearances and help them win their domestic cup and qualify for Europe.

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Having missed the whole of the 2020-21 season because of a serious knee injury, Katic proved his fitness while at Hajduk. But it remains to be seen whether the 25-year-old, another with just one year left on his contract, can force his way back into first team contention at Rangers.

Ryan Kent

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At his best, Kent is one of Rangers’ most effective and electrifying talents and the winger was a mainstay of the side’s epic run to the Europa League final under van Bronckhorst.

The former Liverpool player has regularly been linked with a return to English football, with Leeds United and Aston Villa among his admirers, and is now among those going into the final 12 months of their existing deals.

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At 25, Kent is approaching his prime and van Bronckhorst would ideally hope to tie him down on a new deal.

Joe Aribo

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In a marathon season for club and country, Nigerian international midfielder Aribo made 70 appearances. While his form in the second half of the campaign was not as stellar as it had been before the winter break, he is firmly established as one of van Bronckhorst’s ‘go to’ players.

The 25-year-old, also under contract for one more year, has been strongly linked with a move to Crystal Palace this summer but has given no indication of having itchy feet. He is another van Bronckhorst would certainly wish to keep on board.

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Alfredo Morelos

It wouldn’t be a transfer window for Rangers without speculation surrounding their leading striker. Morelos, who missed the end of last season because of a calf injury, is currently attracting interest from both Sevilla and Besiktas.

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Unless the 25-year-old Colombian international can be persuaded to extend his current contract beyond the summer of 2023, then the time may have finally come for Rangers to cash in on the talismanic front man at a price which ties in with plans to find a suitable replacement.

Stephen Kelly, Glenn Middleton, Jake Hastie and Kai Kennedy

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For a number of the fringe players in the Rangers squad, a move away from Ibrox may now be in the best interests of all parties. Midfielder Kelly (22) and wingers Middleton (22), Hastie (23) and Kennedy (20) all spent last season out on loan and will return to pre-season training this month with no suggestion that their prospects of securing first team football under van Bronckhorst have been enhanced.

All four players are going into the final year of their contracts and are at a stage of their careers where they require regular competitive game time to further their development. It seems unlikely that Rangers would stand in their way if suitable options emerge.

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