Joe Garner looks likely to be the next player to exit Rangers this summer as the process of clearing out unwanted players begins in earnest. A fee has not yet been agreed with Ipswich but there is a willingness to get a deal done and it could be completed in the next couple of days. Rangers are looking to recoup at least £500k for the striker who arrived at Ibrox last season as Mark Warburton's most expensive addition.
This summer has seen loanees Emerson Hyndman and Jon Toral return to Bournemouth and Arsenal respectively, while veteran defenders Clint Hill and Phillipe Senderos were not offered new deals at the end of their contracts. Garner will become the first player still contracted to Rangers to leave the club assuming that a fee can be agreed with Ipswich and he passes a medical.
Garner’s exit is expected to kick-start the process of removing several players who are surplus to requirements as Pedro Caixinha shapes his squad for the new season.
Garner was signed by previous manager Mark Warburton last August in a reported £1.8million move from Preston North End. Much was expected from the English hitman, particularly as fans had witnessed some of what he could do at Preston including a famous volley in a play-off game.
However, much like the rest of the team, Garner’s debut season at Rangers never truly got going at all. His heading ability was something the fans did appreciate, along with his application and physicality, but he was often caught with the ball at his feet or dragging relatively simple chances wide.
Things started reasonably well for Garner as he scored at Parkhead in his Old Firm debut. With Warburton’s Rangers two goals down and the half-time whistle fast approaching, Garner stuck his head where it hurts to bundle the ball over the line and give the fans something to cheer for.
Despite getting goals here and there, endearing himself to fans with his aggressiveness on the park and having a song dedicated to him for a Christmas No.1, Garner’s Rangers career really wasn’t much to write home about.
Ten goals in 37 games across all competitions could be analysed in positive or negative ways, but just seven league goals from 31 appearances perhaps summarises Garner’s contribution to Rangers most accurately.
No one – despite the efforts of the ridiculous Terry Butcher – could legitimately criticise Garner for his heading ability. Indeed, when Warburton changed his tactical approach to a more direct style in home victories against Aberdeen and Hearts, Garner looked far more effective and gave fans food for thought.
Maybe – in a system not as rigid as Warburton’s 4-3-3 and playing for a manager not as stubborn as Warburton – Garner could’ve been more of a success. But we’ll never know. Rangers are going in a different direction under Caixinha and several players will find that out in the coming weeks and months.