Giovanni van Bronckhorst must brace himself for summer exodus of first-team stars as ex-Rangers defenders criticise poor Ibrox recruitment

Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos will pushing for a transfer at the end of the season, according to Richard Foster

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Richard Foster expects Rangers to be forced into selling some of first-team stars this summer after dropping off the pace in the Scottish Premiership title race.

Light Blues manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has a busy squad rebuild on his hands at the end of the season with players such as Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Connor Goldson nearing the end of their current contracts.

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Playmaker Ryan Kent and the talismanic Alfredo Morelos will also be pushing for a transfer as they enter the final year of their deals according to Foster with the Ibrox club not “flush with cash.”

Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent have been revitalised, says Alan Hutton. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Sunday’s damaging Old Firm defeat handed Celtic the initiative in the top-flight as the Hoops cemented their position at the top of the table with a six-point lead over their rivals.

Ex-Gers defender Foster now reckons the Dutchman and his coaching staff must brace themselves for an exodus of first-team stars and find better replacements.

He told PLZ Soccer: “It will be a pivotal time. I think he (Giovani van Bronckhorst) will have his own players in mind that he wants to bring in.

“I think they will want to sell a Morelos or a Ryan Kent. The timing is right. They have both had relatively good seasons.

“It’s not as if Rangers are flush with cash, every month we hear how much Rangers are losing month on month.

“They will need to sell some of their big players or their board are going to have to dig into their pockets again and help them out with money.

“Players like Kent and Morelos, if they don’t move now they are probably not going to get the move that they want.

“They themselves will want to move, so I think his hand will be forced. They are ideally two Van Bronckhorst would want to keep because they are two of his better players.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“You lose someone like Allan McGregor, it looks like he will retire, and you lose what he brings to the dressing room. Someone like Steven Davis as well, they are big characters, and how do you replace those?

“Do you hope someone like Ryan jack steps up or do you bring someone else in? It will be interesting to see what (Giovanni van Bronckhorst) does in the summer.”

It is an opinion shared by another former Rangers defender Andy Halliday who pointed to the club’s poor recruitment in the January transfer window behind their downturn in form.

Prior to the winter break, Rangers held a six-point lead at the summit but new recruits Aaron Ramsey, Amad Diallo and James Sands have all struggled to nail down a regular starting spot.

Halliday admits Sporting Director Ross Wilson and the Rangers board must take ownership of their recent failings.

Speaking on Open Goal’s Keeping the Ball on the Ground podcast, Halliday said: “You look back at January when Rangers had that lead.

Celtic brought in Hatate, Ideguchi, Maeda. They improved their team, improved their squad, improved their starting 11.

Amad Diallo has only featured five times for Rangers since moving on loan in January. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“Rangers brought in Diallo, who’s not kicked a ball, played about one game. Ramsey has started three games and now we’re in April.

“The Polish back-up right-back (Mateusz Zukowski) has started one game and it was against Annan and (James) Sands who’s hardly played, so that was what Rangers added to their squad.

“For me, criticism of the board, criticism for people who are making decisions in terms of recruitment, and obviously the staff and players will get it as well.

“I can’t remember the last time Rangers spent a transfer fee.”

Halliday also signalled out strikers Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten for bringing nowhere near the same quality of injured top scorer Alfredo Morelos.

Roofe led the line in Morelos’ absence against Celtic at Ibrox last Sunday and is expected to do so again on Thursday evening, unless Van Bronckhorst opts to play Fashion Sakala through the middle or hand Itten a rare start.

Halliday added: “Rangers bought Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten because they thought Alfredo Morelos was leaving. They brought them in to replace him, but they’re nowhere near the same team when Morelos isn’t playing.”