Gary McAllister: Alfredo Morelos must learn his lessons and stay at Rangers another season if he is to fulfil ambition

Roddy Forsyth
Alfredo Morelos could finish the season as top scorer - PA

If Alfredo Morelos is to succeed in plotting a path through the red mist that has hindered his progress, he must stay another year at Rangers and heed lessons from the example of a fellow volatile South American striker, Luis Suarez. So said Gary McAllister as he contemplated the options open to Morelos, who is Rangers’ top scorer with 29 goals – all from open play – but whose baggage includes a disturbing disciplinary record.

To be fair to the Colombian, who turns 23 on midsummer’s day, he is in culpable company at Rangers, the club with Scotland’s worst disciplinary record this season. Morelos, though, is the principal offender, having racked up five red cards (one of which was rescinded) plus 17 cautions, a reckoning which led to a four-game suspension when he was dismissed for elbowing Scott Brown in the face during the Old Firm derby at Parkhead in March.

Morelos this week reiterated his desire to play elsewhere, specifically in a ‘more competitive league’ and he has previously stated a hunger to move to the Premier League in England or a European equivalent, but the former Ibrox manager, Graeme Souness, stated recently that top English clubs would be deterred by his hot temper.

It might be added that although Morelos sees himself flourishing in a more competitive context than the Scottish Premiership, he has struggled to make an impact against the stronger sides in the division. He has scored three goals in eight games against Aberdeen and none in nine appearances against Celtic, although McAllister demurred when the suggestion was made that Morelos had yet to prove himself against a higher calibre of opposition.

“You are being a bit picky as his goal tally has been outstanding,” said the Rangers assistant manager.

“His whole journey is a fantastic story. The more you get to know him and how he has developed, it’s amazing what he has done. There have been downsides with his discipline and maybe he hasn’t scored against our biggest rivals.

“His performances in the big games have come into question because he’s been sent off but, over the piece, it is a special story. I have watched a lot of Suarez. I see similarities, in that they act poorly at certain moments, but Alfredo never misses training, he is very robust, never gets injured and is strong.

“He also has a strong mentally as he often gets hammered. I rate him and think he has bundles of potential. We don’t want him to play in the Premier League. We see him as a key player here.

“As for moving on to further his career, that might be a pathway he wants to follow. That desire and hunger to score is there for all to see. He has power and pace which in the Premier League you need. He ticks a lot of boxes, but he would benefit from another season here. Under the stewardship of the people here we can make him better.

“I have played alongside players of similar age to Alfredo and seen them grow and become top players as the penny has dropped – and, hopefully, the penny will drop. He is still only a young boy and he ended up in Finland as a teenager. That was a big step to go from South America to Northern Europe and then to end up here and score for fun.”

Morelos has tended to get fired up in games against Aberdeen in particular. He and Scott McKenna aren't the best of pals Credit: PA

Elsewhere, Celtic will celebrate an eighth successive title success by parading the championship trophy before their final home game of the season, against Hearts. The pair will come together again in the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on Saturday, with Neil Lennon’s players emphatic favourites to beat a Hearts team who have lost three and drawn one of their four games since beating Inverness in the semi-finals.

The Tynecastle side have been undermined by the loss to injury of Peter Haring, Uche Ikpeazu and Arnaud Djoum, none off whom will feature at Parkhead today and all of whom remain doubtful for next weekend. “They have had a plethora of injuries to important players,” Lennon said.

“I am not being disrespectful but a club the size of Hearts can’t afford to lose four or five - they lost Naismith for a while, as well as Souttar and Berra. That was the core of the team that started the season so well but I am not taking one bit of notice of Hearts’ form.

“Craig Levein has changed the team a lot over the last few weeks. He is rotating the squad and he is a wily old character. He is shrewd, so we are not taking anything for granted, recent form anything like that. It is all on the day.”