Ross Wilson's Rangers Recruitment Will Be Under The Spotlight Like Never Before

A notable capture would rejuvenate the squad at a critical juncture, but there have only been tenuous links so far
10:35, 23 Jan 2022

Ross Wilson has been Sporting Director at Rangers for over two years - and the next fortnight will provide a thorough examination of his creativity and resourcefulness in the transfer market.

The Ibrox club has adopted a cautious approach to recruitment over the last 12 months. Spending, impacted by Covid, has been minimal, and quality signings have been rare. 

Since January last year, the champions have welcomed Jack Simpson, Scott Wright, John Lundstram, Fashion Sakala and Juninho Bacuna. The middling purchases have made just 42 starting appearances, and the contribution from the majority has been negligible.

Nnamdi Ofoborh also joined last summer, but he has not pulled on a blue shirt due to a heart issue, and it is too early to make a judgement call on the newest recruit, James Sands.

The constant padding of the squad has been to the detriment of the starting XI - and there has been an onus on the old guard to keep churning out performances. Some of the tried and tested are beginning to wane, and replacements are yet to be trusted.

Uncovering quality with limited resources is a challenge. Former Director of Football, Mark Allen, despite his faults, did unearth occasional gems at minimal expense. Borna Barisic was a £2 million snip; Glen Kamara a £50k bargain, and Joe Aribo and Scott Arfield were free transfers.

Wilson's finest project signing has been Calvin Bassey, and the imposing defender has the attributes to further progress. Kemar Roofe, Ianis Hagi and Leon Balogun have also made significant contributions, but an automatic starter has not arrived since Ryan Kent put pen-to-paper over two years ago.

Recruitment is not solely the responsibility of Wilson and his team; it is a collective effort. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, just like his predecessor, has the final say before a move is advanced.

Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst
Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst

It is unclear whether Rangers will be active in the market in the next two weeks, despite the deficiencies in the squad. Wilson can only work with the tools provided, but the midfield requires an energetic addition.

The Light Blues are four points clear at the top of the table and have encountered just one defeat in 60 league games. Their proficiency on and off the park is evident in the iconic trophy room, but an injection of quality, a fresh face, is long overdue.

Wilson’s rise to prominence at Huddersfield earned him a move to Southampton seven years ago. He lured Philip Billing, Nahki Wells, and Conor Coady to West Yorkshire, highlighting his transfer acumen.

In his Director of Scouting and Recruitment role on the South Coast, he helped pinch Virgil Van Dijk from Celtic. It was an inspired purchase, and the Dutchman earned the club a world-record fee for a defender.

Wilson worked under Les Reed at Saints, and their endeavours in the transfer market were mixed. Danny Ings, Stuart Armstrong, Nathan Redmond and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg were shrewd acquisitions, but Guido Carrillo, Sofiane Boufal and Manolo Gabbiadini were costly misjudgements.

His departure did not lead to an outpouring of emotion, and elements of their online fanbase were quite content to see him return north of the border.

Wilson has revamped the scouting department at Rangers, raised standards and dragged the club into the 21st century. He has laid impressive foundations, but the end product still requires work. 

Rangers are heading for a summer of change - regardless of the destination of the championship flag - and there will be excitement, mixed with trepidation, as a new cycle begins. 

Recruitment will be under the spotlight like never before, and Wilson will be eager to delve into the January sales and make early headway. A notable capture would rejuvenate the squad at a critical juncture, but there have only been tenuous transfer links so far.

Wilson’s previous winter signings have been last-gasp deals, and the Ibrox faithful will be hoping the pattern will continue.

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