Alfredo Morelos: Is the striker Rangers’ most important player?

Some turned into detectives trying to discover the validity of the image, imploring the club to reveal there was no issue and he wasn’t on his way to see a specialist about a thigh issue.

The news supporters were dreading arrived on Friday, two days before the crucial 2-1 loss to rivals Celtic at Ibrox. Giovanni van Bronckhorst confirmed the Colombian would be out for the next couple of weeks, while there is concern it could be a longer-term injury.

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The injury couldn’t have happened to a more important player at a worse time. Not only was his absence from him felt on Sunday, Rangers will play the Europa league quarter-final against Braga without their talisman, as well as the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, a game which takes on more significance with no Scottish Cup win in 12 years.

Alfredo Morelos has been a huge player for Rangers since joining from Helsinki. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group)

A natural reaction after the defeat to Celtic was to assume they missed Morelos’ presence as the focal point of attack. But just how important is the 25-year-old?

When you look at games he has missed, whether it be through injury, suspension, international duty or remaining on the bench across his five seasons at the club, Rangers have shown their capability at handling his absence.

Out of the 33 league and European games he has missed, Rangers have won 21 and only lost four. One of those victories arrived in Braga.

The discomfort of Morelos

Morelos has a one in two ratio for Rangers. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group)

Yet, two of the four losses have arrived this campaign, both in defeats to Celtic in the league. He may have put in plenty of effort across those two games but Kemar Roofe isn’t Morelos and Rangers in turn suffered in attack.

The Colombian, who has been doubted and punished in equal measure, during his time in Scotland gives Rangers a concoction of attacking qualities no other striker in the country can. Goals, personality, link-up play, presence and physicality. He is the ultimate out ball.

Quite rightly, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt were praised for their role in the weekend’s win. But it is hard to imagine they’d have had quite as comfortable a time if Morelos was leading the line.

And, aside from his ratio of a goal every other game, that’s what makes him so successful, the level of discomfort he exerts on defenses. An ability to occupy defenders, create space and drop deep which can bring out the best of Joe Aribo moving forward from midfield or Ryan Kent driving in threateningly from the left.

It now means Van Bronckhorst’s side have got themselves into quite the pickle. How do they replace Morelos? Especially on the European stage where the sound of the Europa League anthem acts like a Bat signal and he becomes a different, even more dangerous beast with 32 goals in 51 appearances for Rangers and Helsinki.

It’s the big question the Dutchman needs to answer.

Across five seasons, Morelos has been the man for Rangers, even when he’s not been at his very best. His mere presence of him can elevate the team. In the biggest two weeks of the season so far they are without their talisman and the early signs are far from positive.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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