By Saikat Mandal

27th Jan, 2023 | 10:40am

Rangers must ship out 'big asset' Filip Helander despite Michael Beale backing

Rangers must ship out Swedish defender Filip Helander this summer when his contract expires, despite public backing from Michael Beale.

The 29-year-old central defender is a class player, and Beale has hailed him as a “big asset”, but he has faced an injury nightmare in the past two years.

He hasn’t played since April of last year and is currently out with a foot problem that required surgery.

The former Bologna defender is out-of-contract this summer and many fans expect that his spell in Glasgow will come to an abrupt end.

He made only five starts under previous manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and is two to three months away from getting back to full fitness. Due to his injury problems, the club cannot discuss a contract extension with him, and to be fair, he should be allowed to leave in the summer.

“Listen, if the Fil Helander I know can get himself back then he’s a big asset to Rangers. He has had two horrible years of injuries. I’ve not been in the building when he’s had them but at 29 I don’t think he is done,” said Beale, as quoted by Glasgow World.

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“Fil has probably got to prove a couple of things to himself more than anything else. I mean that in the sense of returning and staying fit for a period of time.

“Hopefully that will happen towards the real back end of the season. In terms of his contract, at this moment in time there have been no discussions with Fil, purely because of the length of time he’s been our injured.

“He’ll be feeling a lot of frustration, a lot of regret. He missed the qualifying for the World Cup, then they don’t make the World Cup. He would have wanted to have made more of an impact with his national team.”

The defence is one area that Rangers seriously need to address next summer. On paper, Beale has loads of options.

The Gers boss has the likes of Connor Goldson, Ben Davies, John Souttar, and James Sands at his disposal. Rising talent Leon King is another option for him.

But Souttar has barely featured this season and there are concerns over his fitness. There is no guarantee that he can stay fit for the entire season, despite his obvious talent.

It is also unclear whether Rangers will sign Sands permanently. He has done well during his loan spell, but the Gers may decide to not sign him.

In such a scenario, keeping a player like Helander could be very risky. He has done extremely well when fit, but the club must sentiment aside, and be practical in their outlook.

Beale said positive things because he believes the defender can still play some part. He needs to boost his morale, but at the same time, there is no easy way to sort out his future.

Even if he returns after three months, it’s hard to expect that he will be in his best physical shape. How games will he play? Most importantly, can Beale afford to break his regular centre-back partnership to give him more game time, especially towards the business end of the season?

It’s a tough call, but the club must reject the idea of offering him a new deal at Ibrox.

In other Rangers news, a club in Europe holds the option to re-sign a player from Ibrox whenever they like.