ROMA legend Alberto Faccini fears that it could still be too early for Umar Sadiq to make an impact for Rangers.
With Alfredo Morelos banned, Kyle Lafferty cup-tied and Jamie Murphy on the long-term injury list, the Nigerian heads the list of strikers available to play against Aberdeen in the clubs’ Betfred Cup semi-final clash a week today.
In acknowledging Sadiq’s lack of impact since moving to Scotland on loan from Roma back in July, Light Blues boss Steven Gerrard has warned the 21-year-old will have to show he has made significant progress in order to be handed the shirt.
And Faccini, part of the Roma side who won the Serie A title in 1982-83 and who now works as a football agent, isn’t convinced he will be able to meet the target he has been set.
“I read that Sadiq has been struggling to get game time with Rangers since his move to Glasgow,” he said.
“To be honest, this hasn’t really surprised me. In fact, to an extent I expected it.
“I think to understand the situation properly we need to look at Sadiq’s career up to this point.
“It is true he made his Roma debut when he was very young (scoring against Genoa when he was just 17), but the fact he did so was due to a series of injuries which forced Rudi Garcia, the coach at the time, to throw him into the fray.
“While he did well, everyone could see he was certainly not ready for that leap in quality.
“Next he went to Bologna, where he hardly played before heading off to Holland and another loan, this time with NAC Breda.
“His record with them was a strong one – five goals in 12 appearances – which is an impressive return and one which would have pleased Roma.
“At the same time the Dutch championship is different from the Scottish, definitely less physical.
“The style of player Sadiq is, he was always going to take some time to be able to fit in and make a contribution.
“I know everyone has many expectations of him, not least Steven Gerrard himself, but looking from the outside I am not sure he will be ready for the challenge of being the leader in a cup semi-final.”
Faccini hopes that whatever happens, the tough experience of struggling on loan will not set the striker’s career back in the long term.
“Of course, I understand Gerrard’s words are intended to motivate the boy who is very young and needs to be stimulated.
“But I would not want them to have the opposite effect by depressing him,” said the 57-year-old.
“I would not like to see him go the way, say, of a younger Mario Balotelli.
“This would really be bad for him.
“For me, he must instead try to work with humility.
“Only by doing so, can he convince Steven Gerrard and Rangers to give him the chance which he wants. “