High-flying Dessers keeping Rangers double dream alive


By: Ebenezer Bajela

After an initial struggle at the start of the season, Nigerian striker Cyriel Dessers is beginning to justify the faith the management of Scottish giants, Glasgow Rangers, had in him when they signed him from Cremonese in Italy last summer.

Despite a poor 2022/23 season with the Italian club, where he scored a miserly 10 goals in 32 games across all competitions, the Gers paid £4.5m to relegated Cremonese to part ways with the striker.

After joining Rangers, things were not better for the striker as he struggled to hit the ground running and was often booed by the home fans.

In his first 20 games for Rangers, the 29-year-old managed to find the back of the net on three occasions, a performance that cost him a place in the Super Eagles squad at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

However, since the turn of the year, the Belgian-Nigerian has been in fine form and is currently among the top performers in Europe.

Since December, Dessers has scored 13 goals and provided seven assists in 27 appearances across all competitions.

On Sunday, the former Feyenoord striker continued his devastating form with a brace as Rangers beat Hearts 2-0 in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup to set up a mouth-watering final clash with eternal rivals Celtic United.

After picking up the sponsor’s Man of The Match award on Sunday, Dessers, who has now taken his tally for club and country in the 2023/24 campaign to 20 goals with his double, admitted that he’s happy to be scoring again.

“At the start, I think it got to me,” he said.

“I’m really happy with the goals. That was a beautiful day to do that in front of our fans at Hampden; that was special. Today (Sunday) I could have played better. When you score two goals in a semi-final, you have to be happy with that, but we want more.”

Dessers has often been criticised for the chances he misses rather than the ones he takes and questions about his lack of ruthlessness have always been asked with many of the club’s fans questioning the management’s decision not to sign a prolific striker during the January transfer window despite being linked with a move for Lawrence Shankland.

However, Dessers does not look like a man who allowed boos from the stands or criticisms in the media to affect him.

“I don’t know what the talk outside our training ground was,” he said.

“Inside, we were pretty calm and composed. We didn’t lose confidence because we have shown for months what we can do as a team. We just have to find that rhythm.

“It’s important to close out the noise. But after a few months, or for a few guys a couple of years, we have the experience of that. You have to stay focused, in these weeks you have to block out the noise.

“That’s something I learned from as well. Now I have everything in line, in my head as well. When there’s noise now I can shut it out and I think that’s what we all need to do over the next few weeks.”

He added, “It’s not been easy, it’s not the first time this season either. But after a difficult week or result, we always bounced back and we did so again against Hearts.

“Obviously, all eyes in the country were on us and what we were going to do after the last two results. But if you can show this character, at Hampden, in a semi-final, against a good team then I think that says a lot about this team.”

With six games to go – five in the league and the cup – the striker is beaming with confidence, adding that the team is capable of going for the double.

“We have six more games and everything to play for. It’s a new league starting next weekend and we know what we have to do to win the title. Hopefully, we can execute that on the pitch.

“The pressure is rising after the week we had. To do it in the big moments today against a good team, I think we are happy with the performance and result. We can look with confidence to the next games. I want more goals, I want more wins, and hopefully, more trophies as well.

“If you look at the last months, we showed what we’re capable of. It’s just the thing to find this vibe back. If we can find that rhythm back, I think we’re the best team in the league.”

With his 27-goal involvement (19 goals and eight assists) in a season, Dessers is one of the most prolific strikers the club has had in the last 20 seasons.

Taking out their years in the lower leagues, his tally is only bettered by the single-season totals of Alfredo Morelos, Kenny Miller, Kris Boyd, Nacho Novo and Dado Prso over the last two decades.

With six games left to play, he’s already scored more goals than Antonio Colak, Kemar Roofe and Jermain Defoe ever did in one season for the Gers.

Over the past 20 years, he’s outscored Daniel Cousins and Jean-Claude Darcheville, Peter Lovenkrands, Shota Arveladze and Michael Mols and many other Rangers strikers in that timeframe.