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Steven Gerrard: Alfredo Morelos dreams of playing in Champions League

Rangers v St Mirren – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Craig Foy)

Steven Gerrard says Alfredo Morelos is gunning for the Champions League after the Rangers record-breaker rediscovered his hunger for goals.

The Colombian has had a lean start to the campaign but moved past Ibrox great Ally McCoist to become the club’s all-time top scorer in continental competition after netting his 22nd strike during Thursday’s 3-3 draw with Benfica.

All those goals have come in the Europa League but Gerrard knows the 24-year-old has ambitions to go even higher.

It remains to be seen whether the former HJK Helsinki hitman will fulfil that ambition with Gerrard’s team after Gers sporting director Ross Wilson confessed last week the club have an agreement in place that he can move on if a suitable bid is received.

But for now Gerrard is delighted to see the striker back focused and scoring after a summer of speculation over a possible move away from Glasgow.

“He was very happy after the game about his record-breaking (achievement),” said the Light Blues boss. “I think he’s got his hunger back and you can see it in his eyes, he wants to go and score more goals in the competition.

“I know he’s got dreams and aspirations of playing in the Champions League one day, which is good for him.

“In terms of where he’s at, the goals are back, the hunger is back, the sharpness is back.

“I don’t really like comparing him to (the Alfredo) of old because it’s about the now and what he is offering moving forward.

“But he’s definitely in a better place in terms of his form and how he looks. He’s smiling and seems happy, which is fantastic for everyone connected with Rangers.”

Gerrard reckoned his team produced one of their best displays under his charge at Benfica’s famous Stadium of Light as they left the hosts in the shade for much of the match.

Two late lapses in Lisbon, however, cost them victory and while Gerrard was frustrated to see a two-goal lead thrown away, and the chance to make it three wins out of three in Group D, he was delighted with the display of Steven Davis.

The 35-year-old’s contract expires next summer and while there is no rush to discuss new terms, the Ibrox manager was quick to heap praise after another midfield masterclass from the Northern Ireland skipper.

He said: “There are certain individuals (with contracts) up at the end of the season and when the time is right we’ll discuss their futures with them in private. If there’s any news we’ll update you on that.

“Steven is in good form. I think he has been since we returned from lockdown.

“Davo’s being really, really consistent at the moment and arguably in the best form since we’ve been working together.”

“You always wonder when players are at that age, and they have such a long time off with the lockdown, what are they going to be like when they return.

“But with his professionalism, his attitude and his application, he has come back in unbelievable shape and he’s built on that, which has shown in his performances.

“Davo’s being really, really consistent at the moment and arguably in the best form since we’ve been working together.”

Rangers will look to maintain their current nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership when they host Hamilton on Sunday – but Gerrard also reckons his team are well placed to extend their European campaign beyond Christmas for the second year running.

“I’d have certainly have seven points from nine before a ball was kicked,” said the Liverpool great. “We’ve started ever so well and of course we have certain regrets from last night that it’s not nine out of nine.

“But we have to remember where we were a few years back. We have to remember who we’re competing against and show the group respect.

“Seven points from nine is a fantastic return. We’ve got a huge game against Benfica in a few weeks which we’ll really look forward to.

“On paper, Rangers v Benfica at Ibrox is mouth-watering so we’ll deal with that when it comes around.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to qualify but we have to finish the job off as soon as possible.

“We had a very interesting game last night but it’s back to domestic responsibilities tomorrow with Hamilton at home and we’re looking to get another three points and build on our good form.”