MARCO NEGRI last night urged Rangers to push the boat out to bring Frank de Boer back to Ibrox.
And, on a day when chairman Dave King was highly critical of departing boss Mark Warburton, the Italian even volunteered to come across and help with the clean-up operation.
Dutchman de Boer, a hero with the supporters when he played for the Light Blues in 2004, is 6/1 third favourite to be installed as Mark Warburton’s replacement.
Only Alex McLeish, his manager at Ibrox, who is 4/6 ON to get the role and Billy Davies at 7/2 head him in the market.
Those prices, however, don’t reflect the relative popularity of the options, rather the widely held belief the former Ajax and Inter Milan boss would be out of the club’s price range.
But rumours have been rife in recent weeks of a major investment coming in to Rangers
Certainly in revealing himself to be flattered by the speculation linking him with the Govan club, de Boer demonstrated a keen appreciation of the potential difficulties facing whoever takes over.
“Rangers is a fantastic club and I am sorry to see their current position. They are 27 points behind Celtic and the gap is massive at the moment,” he said.
“I want to see them getting closer and eventually becoming the No.1 club again. The challenge needs to happen and it will give more excitement to Scottish football. It’s very important for Rangers to grow and it will take small steps and a good strategy. The Rangers fans are amazing and they deserve success.
“In terms of me being linked, it is very nice. But it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say any more than that.
“I have rejected many jobs in the past few months since departing from Inter.
“My plan is to get back into coaching in the summer.”
As far as Negri, an Ibrox favourite between 1997 and 2001, is concerned, Rangers should reflect on his careful words then quickly make de Boer an offer he can’t refuse.
“For me there are two solutions,” said the Italian. “The first is for Rangers to entrust the management of the club between now and the end of the season to a caretaker.
“The second is to bring in someone whose ability is proven to start the process of rebuilding everything.
“My preference would be for the second and for Frank de Boer, who has a great knowledge, a desire to do well and, after Inter, has many ideas.
“And while I do not see myself as a head coach, to come to Rangers and help train strikers would be a dream come true.”
Without doubt, de Boer would fit the bill of a manager with the status on a level akin to that of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.
His playing career was exceptional: he won an incredible 112 caps for the Netherlands and was a club legend at both Ajax and Barcelona prior joining his brother Ronald at Rangers.
The switch to management has also brought him success. As Ajax boss he won four Eredivise titles in a row.
Those triumphs helped land him the top job at Inter Milan, which – due to the behind-the-scenes turmoil at the Serie A outfit – he only held for three months.
The potential sticking point for King and the Rangers board would be that he would not come cheap.
He would likely require a seven-figure -a-year wage deal, plus the guarantee of significant funds to bring in players.
Whether they feel able to operate on that level is the question.
They should at least have time to chew it over as it is understood the board is determined not to rush the process with a successor not likely to be appointed until mid-March.