Chris Jack feels it would be “silly” to totally rule out the possibility of a Saudi team buying James Tavernier from the Rangers, despite the fact that he has heard of alleged interest in the player on many occasions.
Even if prior reports had not resulted in a move, the journalist acknowledged that “money talks” and stated on the Rangers Review Morning Briefing on January 10 that he would be “surprised” if the 32-year-old was prepared to give up his current situation. As such, it couldn’t be entirely discounted.
The Ibrox captain was reportedly a “key target” for several Saudi teams, according to a TEAMtalk article from the previous day. This was after similar rumors surfaced during the summer transfer season.
Jack said (12m 10s): “This one comes around every so often. I heard… over the course of the summer that there was a bit of interest in Tav. It never materialised, it was played down at that stage.
“I actually heard a murmuring a few weeks ago that there might be interest in him, but again it didn’t really go anywhere, didn’t really seem to have any legs. It’s now come back again.
“I would be surprised, not because Tav’s not a good player or because he wouldn’t fancy the money on offer because that’s obviously a huge incentive for anyone, but I don’t see what’s in it for Tav apart from the financial side of it…
“It would be a big move from Tav’s perspective to say, ‘I’m going to give up on a testimonial, the chance to really cement my Rangers legacy, cement my place in Rangers history’.
“There may be many millions of reasons why he might do it, obviously it sets his family up for life, but it’s not as if he’s playing for Rangers for nothing. He’s on a decent wage, there’s still a couple of years left on his contract.
“It’s hard to say ‘no’ because as soon as a Saudi offer’s put in front of anyone, as we’ve seen, many players have taken it…
“And obviously from a Rangers perspective they will not want to lose him. You can’t afford to be losing your captain halfway through the season, but again, money talks… it’d be silly to completely knock it down.”
He has his detractors but it is hard to understate Tavernier’s significance to Rangers still, so even if an official bid did arrive from the Saudi Pro League the club would need to think carefully about accepting it.
All bets are off when it comes to whether a player would be swayed by the riches on offer in the Middle East, although Jordan Henderson’s attempts to return to England already suggest it doesn’t mean everything.
But unless there was enough money on the table for Rangers to bankroll a full rebuild for Philippe Clement then it would be a risk to let the captain go.
Dujon Sterling may be the man to take over the right-back position, although that is as yet unproven since the summer signing has impressed primarily in midfield in recent weeks.
But in terms of goals and assists, particularly in big games, it isn’t difficult to argue that there is nobody else in the squad, regardless of position, that can fill the gap currently.
Tavernier will clearly leave at some point, whether that be via retirement or a move, but he is going to leave a huge gap to fill when he does and Rangers don’t look ready to cope with that yet.