Mark Warburton jetted on a plane to Spain in December 2016 with the aim of luring Eibar winger Jota to Rangers in the January transfer window.
The Daily Record reported that Warburton wanted to hold face-to-face talks with a player who had shone under his tutelage at Brentford in 2014/15, scoring 11 Championship goals to help the newly-promoted Bees earn a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
After falling out of favour at La Liga’s perennial overachievers Eibar, Jota was set to return to parent club Brentford in January. However, Warburton’s hopes of a reunion at Rangers were over just a week into the New Year when Jota made a substitute appearance for the London side – FIFA rules state a player cannot turn out for three teams in a single season.
And, almost one year on, Rangers could only dream of luring a player of Jota’s quality to Ibrox. Though The Gers spent almost £10 million on new players in the summer, the likes of Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera and Graham Dorrans are simply not in the same league as the Spanish schemer.
After returning to Griffin Park at the start of the year, Jota ended the season with a hugely impressive tally of 12 goals and five assists from 19 Championship starts.
Birmingham City, then, probably could not believe their luck when they fought off competition from Premier League clubs to make Jota their club-record signing for a fee in excess of £6 million on transfer deadline day in August, per the BBC.
It’s a fee that would have made Jota the second most expensive player in Rangers’ history. It’s a fee they could not hope to pay for a single player with today’s financial restrictions.
Though a hamstring injury has meant Birmingham have been forced to wait to see the best of Jota, The Blues will surely discover that they’ve spent their £6 million well.