Four targets available for nothing: Rangers must prepare January pre-contract offers in a bid to chase Celtic

A general view of Ibrox Stadium is seen ahead of the EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Scotland and Georgia at Ibrox Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Rangers should be looking to strike pre-contract agreements with a host of contract rebels in January.

A general view of Ibrox Stadium is seen ahead of the EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Scotland and Georgia at Ibrox Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Rangers' recent 2-0 defeat to Celtic summed up the gulf that still remains between the two sides, and the Gers have to find ways to try and chase down their Old Firm rivals.

Manager Pedro Caixinha was backed with £8million worth of new signings over the summer, and whilst that was almost twice as much as Celtic spent, the two teams approached the transfer window from very different angles.

Celtic only needed to add a couple of calculated signings, such as Olivier Ntcham, Jonny Hayes and Kundai Benyu, but Rangers required a full-scale overhaul, with Caixinha bringing 11 new faces to Ibrox.

Jamie Walker of Hearts in action during the UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round: Second Leg between Hearts Football Club and Birkirkara at Tynecastle Stadium on July 21, 2016 in...

There isn't an unlimited pot of money for Caixinha to work with moving forward, meaning Rangers must be planning right now to offer out pre-contract agreements to some of their top summer targets who escaped their grasp.

Over the summer, Rangers were linked with moves to sign Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean, Hearts winger Jamie Walker and Motherwell striker Louis Moult, whilst St Mirren wide man Lewis Morgan is another player on the Rangers radar.

All four players are out of contract at the end of the season, meaning Rangers should have pre-contract agreements lined up for all four players in a bid to sign them all for free at the end of the season – or essentially force their clubs to sell for knockdown prices in the final six months of their contracts.

Kenny McLean of Aberdeen vies with Mehdi Kirch of CS Fola Esch during the UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round, First Leg match between Aberdeen and CS Fola Esch at Pittodrie Stadium...

Add in that loanees Declan John and Aaron Nemane are also out of contract and could sign for free, and January could be a huge month for the make-up of the Rangers squad under Caixinha, with deals plausible for all six players named here.

To chase down Celtic without the same financial backing, especially in terms of wages, Rangers must find other ways to close the gap – and signing top Scottish Premiership talents, as well as young loanees from England, in bargain deals is one of the smarter ways to go about it.

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