WITH speculation surrounding the future of Alfredo Morelos and with Rangers suffering from a severe lack of alternatives up front following Jermain Defoe’s recent injury, Steven Gerrard will be delighted to have snapped up Anderlecht striker Kemar Roofe on a four-year deal.

At 27, Roofe is fast approaching his prime as a footballer and fans of the Ibrox club will be hoping that the former Leeds United man can hit the ground running and play an influential role in their team’s title challenge this season – and perhaps even replace the goalscoring void left by Morelos, in the event the Colombian forward joins Lille.

A quick look at Roofe’s statistics while playing under Vincent Kompany in Belgium last season suggests that while the Englishman has had a decent enough goal tally over the last few seasons, there are grounds for cautious optimism that Roofe can find the net even more regularly for his new employers.

At Anderlecht, Roofe was averaging 0.45 goals per 90 minutes played – a decent enough rate, averaging a goal a little over every two games. Now, this is some way off the likes of Morelos (0.76) and Defoe (1.02), and direct comparisons between the three will not tell the full story as they were playing in different leagues with a varying standards of opposition.

What should encourage Gerrard, though, is an examination of Roofe’s expected goals (xG) for the previous campaign. This metric quantifies both the number of shots a player takes and the likelihood of converting them, thus giving a clearer insight into the sort of opportunities they are being presented with. Roofe had an xG/90 of 0.62 for last season, implying that the striker perhaps should have scored more than he actually did – but it is also worth pointing out that this is the highest that Roofe’s average xG has been at any stage in his career.

The fact that Roofe has spurned opportunities that he could have converted will be an obvious concern, but these figures testify to the forward’s positioning, timing and ability to carve out space for a shot on goal. His efforts might not be going in quite as often as they perhaps should but Roofe is getting in the right positions and that alone suggests that in time, the goals will come.

A look at Roofe’s shot accuracy would add further evidence to this theory. The striker was one of the most accurate players in the Belgian top flight last season, with around 57% of his shots on target – the second-highest rate of any player in the division. And, perhaps more encouragingly, Roofe’s shot accuracy has risen in each of the last four seasons.

The underlying data suggests that Roofe is improving in a number of key metrics but he must become more clinical in front of goal if he is to effectively lead the line at Ibrox. Both Morelos and Defoe outperformed their xG during the last campaign (meaning they scored more than they reasonably ought to) and if the Ibrox club are to win the title at long last, they will need Roofe to do the same. That will require improvement from the 27-year-old but the numbers suggest that Roofe is fully prepared to do just that.