RANGERS have once again been active early in the transfer market, much to the delight of boss Steven Gerrard.
As the manager looks to again make his pool of players even stronger, Ianis Hagi has been secured on a permanent transfer, while Calvin Bassey will join from Leicester City when the transfer window opens.
Speaking yesterday to RangersTV exclusively, Gerrard explained: “We always try to act early, and you have got to give Ross [Wilson] and the recruitment lads a lot of credit for that.
“We are always on the front-foot and it never stops here at Rangers – we are always trying to improve the 11 and always trying to improve the squad.
“We are looking for better talent and assets for the club – obviously Hagi was slightly different because he was here on loan and we knew there was a deal in place.
“I think we’ve got to give credit to his previous club for the negotiations that went really smoothly, so to have him here full-time now, he is a terrific asset for the club and he is a fantastic player.
“The most important thing for me is the person himself. He is a fantastic human being who wants to learn and wants to improve. He has come back in incredible shape – if you talk about someone who, to the letter, has taken every bit of information on-board with his body fat and his weight – he is in perfect condition right now.
“We are ready to bulk him up a bit to get him fitter and stronger and ready to go from day one, and he is as excited as myself and I am really looking forward on that one.
“In terms of Calvin Bassey, I think he is going to surprise a few – there’s not many people know the name like a Hagi for example, but we have tracked him for some time and we have watched him a lot, and I think he is going to come in and surprise a lot of people as he is a fantastic talent.
“He is big, he is strong, he is quick and he is aggressive. He is excellent in one v one situations and he can play in two or three different positions.
“He plays with a smile on his face and he is your modern day, powerful full-back and I am looking forward to seeing how people take to him because when I think when people have watched him quite a bit, they will be as excited as I am.”
In addition to his new recruits, Gerrard has been able to welcome Filip Helander back with the rest of the group, with the Swedish defender having been injured since December.
“He is ready,” explained Gerrard, “but he still needs to do a pre-season like the whole squad. He needs to get ‘football-fit’ – he has come back in great shape and he is a top professional.
“He is a leader in the way he goes about his business. That will feel like a new signing to us as he was sorely missed, certainly from Christmas onwards. I think we missed his experience and his leadership – I think defensively in terms of goals conceded over the course of the season, we performed really well, but it is still an area that we still want to improve and we want to avoid individual mistakes and sloppy goals.
“Fil will certainly help us in that area.”
With the players now settling-in to this new way of working under the rules set out by the Scottish FA and the Scottish Government, Gerrard laid out both what they and also the Rangers fans can expect in the build-up to the new season.
“I think the plan for us is to get back to normality as quickly as possible,” he continued. “We are all aware that’s what the players want – it’s what we are used to and our normal routine is to come in and train with the full group and go full contact and really make a game-tempo and match-tempo.
“In terms of the fans, we want to give them some news on friendlies that are on the horizon – we know they want to watch the team and they have missed it just like we have ourselves.
“So hopefully, in the coming days and weeks, we are going to announce some friendly matches – we have some exciting things brewing in the background.
“We are still chasing targets behind the scenes – we have numerous targets that we want to bring in to strengthen us and help us over the course of next season.
“So without giving too much away, it is exciting times to be at Rangers.”
And on the start to the new season, which, at the moment is set for August 1, Gerrard added: “I am always ready. I think I have had enough time to self-reflect and analyse where I am and where my staff are and where the team is at.
“We have had some real, strong, powerful meetings over the summer to analyse where we are.
“We are all on the same page from Ross down. I have had some really positive chats with the board so everyone is on the same page from Douglas Park all the way down and everyone is excited to really move on from the past, learn from it, try and improve and get ready for the challenges that face us.
“But we are really itching to get going.”