By Richard Parks
Talk about a bolt from the blue.
Or, should that be a bolt from the red, white and blue as Rangers make the kind of jawdropping transfer move not seen from them for over a decade.
Steven Gerrard has opened preliminary talks to bring Bournemouth striker Jermain Defoe to Ibrox this summer in a move that will not only give Celtic the fear but could change the face of Scottish football.
The Daily Record claim manager Gerrard wants the the Premier League legend, 35, as a blue riband signing and to spearhead the Light Blues attack next season.
It is said that Gerrard is eyeing a one-year loan for striker Defoe, who has two years left on his £80,000-a-week Bournemouth contract, and is “hopeful” of sealing what would be an astonishing deal.
You have to be a Rangers fan of a certain age and vintage to remember the last time the club signed a player of the calibre of Defoe, either on loan or permanently.
The striker’s astronomical wages would be a major hurdle to a deal, as would the two years remaining on his Cherries contract.
But, in Gerrard’s favour is that the goal machine has just endured a frustrating season beset by injuries and a place lower down the centre-forward pecking order than he is used to.
With Callum Wilson and Josh King also on Bournemouth’s books, Defoe made just 11 league starts last season, although demonstrated his customary eagle eye for goal when he did get a go.
Age has barely withered his powers and he was recalled to the England team last season following a goal-drenched spell at Sunderland.
With 163 Premier League goals to his name and 20 from 57 England matches, Defoe would certainly represent a marquee capture, and Rangers have hope a deal can be done.
This is where Gerrard’s influence, name and standing could prove decisive.
The two have played together for England and have had dozens of Premier League battles when the 37-year-old was wearing the red of Liverpool.
Signing Defoe would be a gamechanger for the SPL. Sure, he is past his absolute prime, but the West Ham academy product is still fit as a flea and looks like he could carry on banging in the goals well into his late 30s.
Even Celtic, who are on the verge of the double treble, will be privately concerned.
Moussa Dembele, Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard are fine strikers and can be clinical, but none have the predatory instinct of Defoe, who could snaffle 40 goals next season in the SPL if he steers clear of injury.
Little wonder Gerrard wants him. For the benefit of Scottish football, here’s to hoping he can get it done.