There’s very little arguing with that statement: Edu showed in a short spell towards the end of last season that he has enough raw talent to make the £2.6m paid for him in the summer of 2008 look like a very shrewd investment indeed. And if Sunday’s Old Firm match was anything to go by, such talent will surely find itself in considerable demand as this season progresses.

It was in the aftermath of the “boozegate” affair that Edu found himself called on by Walter Smith last term. Barry Ferguson’s enforced exile from first-team affairs left a breach in the middle of the park during the SPL title run-in into which the 23-year-old stepped with precisely the degree of confidence and assurance you would hope for in an American. Prior to that, his first-team appearances had been rationed. Since Rangers’ championship-winning display at Tannadice on May 24 they have been non-existent: a Darren Dods challenge just before half-time in that game put paid to his ability to train for the next three months.

His return, therefore, brings a much-needed injection of quality to the Rangers engine-room, but equally valuable might be his versatility. That, at least, is the view of Steve Nicol, the former Liverpool and Scotland stalwart, who was hugely impressed by Edu when he was a Major League Soccer player with Maurice Johnson’s Toronto FC. “He’s a player who can perform in a number of different roles,” said the 47-year-old coach of New England Revolution of a young Californian who has played for his country in midfield, at centre-back and at right-back. “He’s not just a central midfielder. That’s probably where he prefers to play but he’s got that ability to step in to other positions. If you can play at centre-back it’s obvious that you have the ability to read the game, so he is a real asset.”

Edu, who was drafted by Toronto as the first overall pick of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, is visiting a specialist in London this week and expects to be given the green light to return to full training after several weeks of gym sessions and running. Having signed a five-year contract at Rangers last August, he was forced to bide his time in the reserves before circumstances propelled him centre-stage in April. At the time Rangers were barely hanging onto Celtic’s coat-tails in the title race, but suddenly they became a far more competitive unit, in part due to Edu’s hunger and energy. Where Ferguson’s performances had been inconsistent and not infrequently flaky, Edu was physically adept, robust in the tackle and resourceful in terms of supporting the front men. Arguably his most impressive performance came in Rangers’ 1-0 win over Celtic at Ibrox in May – a shift that spoke well of his maturity and composure in the most fraught of environments.

“It’s not easy to step into Barry Ferguson’s shoes, as he was asked to do towards the end of last season,” says Nicol. “When Rangers signed him he’d had less than a full season as a professional, he’d come out of college and been picked early in the draft by Maurice Johnson. Compared to most other Old Firm players, he’s inexperienced. But I think now you’ll probably see the best of him. As far as I know he’s impressed when he’s had the chance, but it’s not easy to make the switch from a completely different environment after one season as a pro, and it usually takes a while for a player to settle.

“In the MLS, for such a young player he was someone Toronto relied on. You knew he was a player of real quality when you came up against him, even though he was inexperienced. He picks good positions, he defends well, but he also distributes the ball well, so you’ve a guy who has a lot of ability.”

Rangers may not have made any permanent signings in the most recent transfer window, but there’s a fair chance one of their 2008 investments could be about to start paying dividends.