Rangers’ £35,000-per-week gamble on striker Jermain Defoe

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (R) in discussion with Jermain Defoe (SNS Group)
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard (R) in discussion with Jermain Defoe (SNS Group)

THE extent of the Jermain Defoe effect should become clearer at Ibrox today when Rangers play host to HJK Helsinki.

Arranged as part of the deal which brought Alfredo Morelos to the Govan club, the friendly against the Finns has been given extra spice through the recruitment of Steven Gerrard’s former England team-mate, Defoe, and returning favourite Steven Davis.

The Light Blues boss has stated both men will feature at some point, with pay-at-the-gate available for the noon kick-off.

With Rangers fans denied the opportunity to see football on Friday night because of the postponement of the Scottish Cup tie at at Cowdenbeath, the crowd is likely to be significantly higher than might otherwise have been expected.

And while Rangers don’t stand to reap a financial reward from today’s action – the friendly is essentially part of the settlement to Morelos’s former employer – the directors will nevertheless be cheered by a demonstration of the revenue-generating power of Defoe and Davis.

The two have been picked up on loan deals, the striker from Bournemouth and the midfielder from Southampton.

But on the players’ wages, they represent a calculated gamble aimed at wrestling the Premiership title away from rivals Celtic.

Defoe, in particular, is a marquee signing – and as such comes at a price.

It is understood the 36-year-old earns £90,000 a week from his English employers, and that for the duration of his time in Scotland, Rangers are picking up the tab for £35,000 of that total.

As much as that’s quite a bit less than the £65,000 figure for their contribution which has been quoted from English sources this weekend, it still adds up to more than half-a-million pounds between now and the end of the season.

For the Ibrox club’s punt to pay off, the striker will need to score big goals of the type which help deliver silverware. With Gerrard having already demonstrated his ability to deliver a victory over Celtic with the Old Firm derby win just before the start of the winter break, fans will believe that is no pipe dream.

Speaking in an interview with The Sunday Post earlier this month, Davie Moyes, Defoe’s former manager at Sunderland, voiced his confidence in Defoe’s ability to hit important goals.

He believes it is a great move from Rangers’ point of view.

The former Manchester United, Everton and West Ham gaffer said: “I think it’s a great move by Rangers.

“I’ve no doubt that Jermain will score goals and he has the ability to score important goals.

“He has a wealth of experience and is also hungry to do well in the final years of his playing career by winning a major medal or two.

“When he played under me for Sunderland, what really impressed me was his game intelligence, the way he would lose his marker, find a little yard of space in and around the box.

“He used to like to strike the ball early and he always made a clean connection. More importantly, he rarely, if ever, failed to hit the target.”

Rangers fans will hope that will be the case.