While Rangers may be in the middle of a challenging battle to regain second place in the Scottish Premiership, the summer transfer window is quickly approaching and preparations for which squad players should stay and which should go will have undoubtedly already begun.
Amongst the numerous players on loan at Ibrox this season, Jason Cummings is perhaps the most intriguing from a certain point of view when his potential and the relatively modest fee required to sign him permanently is taken into account.
With recent reports suggesting just £1 million would do the trick, surely this deal is a no brainer.
Although the former Hibernian goalscorer didn’t exactly enjoy a fantastic run of form, or even game time, at Nottingham Forest, Cummings has been a relatively impressive squad player since arriving at Rangers in January. The 22-year old can play across a front three, but under Graeme Murty he's played primarily as a no.9 and in that role goals have come at a solid rate.
Since the turn of the year, Cummings has enjoyed a great ratio of 0.79 goals per 90 minutes. Although that may not seem like much, it is a figure which puts him second only to Josh Windass in that time frame and perhaps crucially above fellow goalscorers Alfredo Morelos and Jamie Murphy.
This has translated quite nicely to five goals in 13 games, although it’s worth pointing out that just one of those goals came in the Scottish Premiership and even then it was against lowly Ross County. And in ten league games, the on-loan striker has only been deemed good enough to start the match on two occasions.
Cummings’ ability to create chances despite limited game time is also apparent in his shots per 90 minutes metrics. Although he sits behind Windass and Morelos in this regard, the 22-year old is still averaging 3.3 to their 3.77 and 3.6 respectively. Which suggests, despite often coming on late in games, that the young Scottish international is just as capable of testing the goalkeeper as Rangers’ best talents.
Essentially, Cummings may not be hitting as many shots as Windass or Morelos but he is scoring goals at a comparable rate to both of these exemplary attacking players. Considering the young forward could have spent the past four months settling in to his new environment its safe to say that he has hit the ground running.
Although Murty isn’t really in a position to be experimenting as the team approach the business end of the season, it is worth noting that, despite Cummings’ impressive stats, the striker still hasn’t had a consistent, starting role in the Rangers team.
Which, if offered to him before the end of the season, may provide a more stable platform for the young forward to not only match his peers at Ibrox but perhaps even surpass them. Right now the on-loan striker is a handy super sub but Murty may be holding back a forward that would play even better if given the chance to prove himself.
Indeed, the comparisons to Morelos aren’t just a convenient yardstick for judging any given goalscorer at Rangers. Due to the Colombian’s own spectacular form this season, the club may have to contend with selling their only permanent No.9 and if that were to happen then Cummings would probably be lined up as the ideal replacement.
Reports in Scotland suggested Chinese clubs were willing to offer serious money for the striker’s signature in January and since then the 21-year old has surely only gone on to win over more fans for his ability to score goals. If isn’t China that makes offers for the Rangers forward in the summer, it’ll almost certainly be England or elsewhere in Europe.
This does leave Rangers in a slightly enviable position. While most teams would be happy to simply have a goal-scoring forward that enjoys the attention of bigger and richer clubs, Rangers not only have Morelos on the pitch but also have Cummings in reserve.
If the former is sold for a handsome fee this summer then signing the latter for a mere £1 million would not only fill the hole left by the Colombian but also hand the Ibrox side a tidy profit.
Although there is still plenty left to play for this season, as Rangers continue their run in the Scottish Cup and a tough fight for second place in the Premiership, the powers that be at Ibrox may wish to get to work on ironing out deals for this summer’s transfer window. And Cummings should undoubtedly be one of their main priorities.