The Future of Alfredo Morelos

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Alfredo Morelos’ numbers while playing with Rangers in the Scottish Premiership speak for themselves. In 58 appearances, he has scored 31 goals and added 14 more assists, with 17 arriving last season alone.

So prolific was the 23-year-old, he was called into the Colombia squad in the spring, and though he may not have been called for the team that ultimately exited the Copa America at the quarter-finals at the hands of Chile on penalties, there is little doubt that he is on the international radar.

His strike rate is comparable to that of Moussa Dembele, who Celtic sold to Lyon for £20 million just 12 months ago yet there is another number that looms so large over him it begs the question as to whether he will ever get the big move his talent doubtless deserves.

Over the course of just one season, he was sent off four times – and that’s not including a dismissal on the opening day of the campaign against Aberdeen that was ultimately downgraded to a yellow card.

He missed 10 games for Steven Gerrard’s side last season – all were due to suspension.

There was no witch-hunt against the forward; he drew attention to himself, with much of his behaviour – notably the elbow to Scott Brown in the penultimate Old Firm game of the season, earning him a four-game ban – completely unfathomable.

“I’ve gone above and beyond – I’ve backed Alfredo more than enough and I can’t defend him anymore,” Gerrard lamented after the Celtic Park episode.

This remarkable propensity for self-destruction under only the slightest provocation often had profound consequences for his team-mates. Twice he saw red in the first half and all of those dismissals came before 65 minutes were up.

While this explosive nature has not yet overshadowed his terrific ability as a goal scorer, it has rightly led to clubs questioning whether last season’s Scottish Premiership top scorer is worth the risk.

A bulldog of a forward, who gives defender’s not a moment’s peace when he’s on the field, he is the type of player whose game is built around his aggressive nature.

“I am a very ‘hot’ player on the park, I’m very passionate and I like it. I also like coming in strong, powerfully and hitting the ball hard. I would never change the way I am,” he told RangersTVin March. “I like playing in the air, I like clashing, I like frustrating the defence. No-one can faze me, I’m the kind of player that is always dedicated to my team, and I fight for my team.”

But while these aspects of his game cannot be allowed to wane, the mindless off-the-ball contact, swinging elbows and surreptitious kicks must stop. He has yet to learn that the more he does it, the more attention gets drawn to him and the harder such acts of gamesmanship are to get away with.

Certainly, with VAR in place – or going to be in place – during the 2019-20 season in all of Europe’s big leagues, the only way he can realise his potential is to cut out the nonsense.

In recent days there has been speculation over a £20 million move to the Premier League, with Crystal Palace interested. Over recent months, he has also been linked with clubs in France and Germany, albeit for a lesser fee.

Capable of scoring all kinds of goals, there is little doubt that harnessed in the correct way, Morelos would be an asset to teams in any of these leagues, yet just how to control the volatile nature of the striker has left everyone in Scotland scratching their heads.

He poses a unique problem, but who will be brave enough to take up the challenge of solving it for a lavish fee when there is every chance he will spend as much time on the back pages for his bad behaviour as his undoubted match-winning quality?

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About Author

A football journalist specialising in the French and Scottish game, Robin has been writing professionally for over a decade. His career highlights include attending World Cups in Brazil and Russia, and Euro 2016 in France.

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