It was a comment that had Rangers fans racking their brains as one transfer window came to an end and they already started looking ahead to the next one. Just who was that mystery number nine that Micheal Beale alluded to as he spoke of his plans to strengthen the squad?
“I’d like to bring another No 9 into the building that is different to what we’ve got,” he said. “My eyes are on that and I’ve got my target but he’s probably not available right now. He will be in the summer. I don’t want to give you names because everyone else might start liking him.”
It was a real tease from Beale and sent supporters into overdrive as they tried to work out from those clues just who it might be. A finisher like Antonio Colak but with the link-up play? A towering target man alternative to Alfredo Morelos? Record Sport decided to have a crack at some of the options it could be.
The Aussie-born Scotland strike star was frequently linked with a move to Ibrox while he was at Livingston during Beale’s time at Rangers alongside Steven Gerrard. It didn’t materialise and the 27-year-old joined QPR instead where Beale ended up working with the frontman. He would still have one year left on his Loftus Road contract in the summer but that might tempt them to cash in rather than risk him running down his deal. A physical presence up front but Dykes is more mobile than Antonio Colak and would offer something different to the Croat. And he is an admirer of Beale’s work, saying after he left for Ibrox: “We all got on with the manager – he was great. He came in and knew what he wanted to do straight away – he was very firm, and his training sessions were very good. “I’m sure he will do great up there. He’s very highly spoken of in the football scene.”
Like Nicolas Raskin who did arrive at Ibrox in January, the England Under-21 international was linked with a move to the Light Blues prior to Michael Beale’s appointment. The Aston Villa man is likely to be someone who has been on Ross Wilson’s list for some time but Beale would have worked with him at Villa Park. He has just made his third loan move to away from Villa Park after joining Middlesbrough so wouldn’t be available until the summer. However, it would still require the Midlands side deciding his future lies elsewhere as he does have a contract until 2027. Still an option if Unai Emery doesn’t see him as part of the first team plans.
The Sunderland man won’t be available until the summer but sadly that is due to the fact he is out for the remainder of the campaign with an Achilles injury. Crucially, his contract at the Stadium of Light will enter its final 12 months at the start of next season.
The former Ross County man - nicknamed the ‘Loch Ness Drogba' - has been on the Rangers club’s radar previously and is on of the top strikers in the Championship.
Rangers were reported to be challenging Celtic for the South Korea striker’s signature before the Parkhead side switched targets and landed his compatriot Oh. The World Cup man looked to be moving on from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in January with Mainz and the Hoops battling it out. Rangers’ name then emerged. The 25-year-old then opted to stay in the K-League and looks likely to be available again in the summer so he ticks that box, although it’s hardly a secret.
One-time Celtic target hasn’t quite lived up to the hype during his Sunderland days, although suffered a season-ending knee injury after leaving the Stadium of Light for Bordeaux. His contract at the French Ligue 2 side Bordeaux is up in the summer so, again, makes him a feasible option. Nigeria cap was linked with a £4 million move to Fulham in the January transfer window and at 24-years-old falls into the Todd Cantwell category of a player who Michael Beale could look to reinvigorate.
Boyhood Rangers fans has often been linked with a move to Ibrox but his move from Swansea to Sheffield United saw him go for a staggering £20 million. The Light Blues couldn’t have matched that kind of fee but his contract at Brammall Lane expires at the end of the season. At 26-years-old, could the Scotland striker be a shrewd free transfer acquisition?