Alfredo Morelos is hardly a name that stays out of the spotlight too much. The 23-year-old Colombian has acquired two separate reasons for being a rather popular character at Rangers.
Since arriving from HJK Helsinki in the summer of 2017 for an undisclosed fee, Morelos has appeared 112 times for the club. He has scored 63 times, racking up a tally of 24 assists. That is a number worth lauding.
Not just that, but Morelos has scored six times in the Scottish Premiership this season. In eight UEFA Europa League appearances, he has scored just as many times- another impressive number for someone who has played just three times for the Colombian national team.
Last season, Morelos scored 30 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions for the Gers. But the campaign saw him get sent off as many as four times in the Premiership. Morelos get sent off after an incident with Scott Brown in the Old Firm derby and missed the last two games of the season.
This was his fifth sending off in all competitions. Rangers the game 2-1 and after the game, Steven Gerrard was critical of Morelos’ behaviour. The former Liverpool midfielder said (per BBC Sport):
“He’ll be punished internally and we’ll move forward. The reality is if you raise your arm, you leave yourself wide open. Obviously he’s been provoked in the first place but it’s happened on too many occasions now. I’ve gone above and beyond – I’ve backed Alfredo more than enough and I can’t defend him anymore.”
But Morelos was still the highest goalscorer for the season in the Scottish Premiership with a tally of 18 goals. He scored one more goal than Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove, despite having played five games less.
That is a sign of a man who loves scoring goals. At Helsinki, Morelos had an incredible goalscoring record. He scored 46 times in just 62 appearances. He also had a tally of 13 assists. Numbers like that show how much he is well-capable of playing for a Premier League club.
That is certainly no disrespect to the Scottish Premiership. But the Premier League has a well-known vibe of loving characters like Morelos. They love the fire and that old-school desire. Rangers fans love him at Ibrox too, but he has done enough to play in the most popular league in the world. He has what it takes to mingle with some of Europe’s best now.
Interest from Crystal Palace and Aston Villa has been concrete, with both the sides already having sent scouts to watch Morelos.
With Roy Hodgson’s Eagles missing the goals of a proper centre-forward, Morelos makes a lot of sense. The club has seen Christian Benteke’s fall from grace and the 4-5-1 formation sees Jordan Ayew play upfront. In the occasional 4-4-2 shape, Hodgson has often played Benteke as the second-striker.
But their chase for Morelos suggests that they want a better goalscorer- a more proven outlet for goals than Ayew or the former Liverpool man. Ayew has scored only nine goals in his last two Premier League campaigns, while Morelos has scored 31 in his last two Scottish Premiership seasons.
That is the gulf that Palace would like to bridge with a goalscorer like Morelos.
For Aston Villa, Dean Smith’s men do seem to be reaping success from Wesley’s summer signing. The 22-year-old Brazilian has scored four times in the Premier League this season, playing in ten games.
Wesley is more of an aerial and physical outlet, winning the fourth-highest number of aerial duels for the club- 1.8. But Morelos presents a more complete option upfront. He likes to involve himself in the play and would allow a change in approach.
When asked about Morelos’ pursuit, Villa boss Smith said (via The Sun):
“Suso’s got all of his scouts out looking at things, but January is a long, long way at the moment and we’ve got a lot of games to play. Watch this space.”
This clarifies that the interest is certainly there. It is only a matter of time before they make offers him. And no one would deserve it more than Morelos.