A footballer - just like any other commodity that is bought and sold so readily - is only really worth what someone is willing to pay at any time.

For too long, those prices were at the wrong end of the scale for Rangers but there is now real value in the squad that Steven Gerrard has assembled. On the pitch and the balance sheet, Rangers have proper assets for the first time in a long time.

The financial report for RIFC plc that was released on Friday evening contained plenty of numbers that grabbed the headlines, not least the loss of £15.9million for the year ending June 30, 2020.

But it also offered a reality of where Rangers are and the one key area where improvement must be made going forward.

And it is the one that Gerrard and supporters fear most. If Rangers are to balance the books and be fully self-sufficient, they must maximise their player trading model.

An 11 per cent increase in revenue, despite the impact of Covid-19, to £59million was encouraging for the Ibrox board, as was the rise of 13 per cent on sponsorship income as Rangers benefit from a range of new club partners and the increased profile that the improvements under Gerrard's guidance have brought.

There is, however, still a requirement for external investment to arrive from the group of wealthy benefactors and supporters that continue to fund Rangers. The accounts show that a further £8.8million is needed just to see out the season as chairman Douglas Park predicted that playing behind closed doors will cost Rangers around £10million.

The gaps could have been plugged and the losses reduced by selling their prized assets but the Ibrox board deserve credit for the way in which they have backed Gerrard this term.

There was an increase of £6.7million on player costs during the last financial year and that figure will rise again following a summer window that saw the likes of Ianis Hagi, Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe join Gerrard's squad.

It would have made no sense, therefore, to shoot themselves in the foot and weaken what is the strongest group Rangers have had in a decade at the beginning of such an important and historic campaign.

The sale of Ryan Kent or Alfredo Morelos would have made the bottom line easier on the eye, but the true cost would have been felt on the pitch and it wasn’t a price worth paying.

Rangers only need to glance across the city to see the benefit of player sales. The £25million move that took Kieran Tierney to Arsenal was vital to Celtic's finances, just like the exits of Moussa Dembele, Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama before him.

Come next summer, it will be almost impossible to hold onto the likes of Kris Ajer, Callum McGregor and Odsonne Eduoard as Celtic count the cost of missing out on Champions League football once again.

That is the business plan, though. That is where Celtic are and Rangers need to get to, where they can sell a player every summer to fund improvements in the team and the cost of challenging for domestic honours and European spots.

The Ibrox squad has taken significant sums to build, but it will more than pay for itself many times over should it ever need to and Rangers will be able to cash in when required for football or financial reasons.

The blueprint of buy low and sell high is one that clubs across the continent have mastered and Rangers must become efficient in the art, as well as significantly improving on their strike rate when it comes to Academy players. The infrastructure – headed by Sporting Director Ross Wilson – must scout and develop players from home and abroad and there is no reason why Rangers can’t become a profitable and successful football operation in the coming years.

Gerrard is realistic enough to know that is the name of the game here and supporters must get their heads around it as well. They won’t want to see Kent, Morelos or Borna Barisic go, but it is a necessary evil of their financial situation and a consequence of their performances, especially in the Europa League.

When Gerrard took over, there were very few sellable assets in the squad but that is no longer the case. The likes of Glen Kamara, James Tavernier and Barisic will give Rangers a massive return on their investments, while they will also make substantial profits on Kent, Hagi and Connor Goldson when, or if, the time comes for them to move on.

That moment is not now, though. Having built this squad, Gerrard must now get the most out of it.

If this group is going to win the Premiership title, it will have to do it this season given that the financial reality of life after Coronavirus will surely necessitate sales next summer.

At long last, Rangers are in the position of strength in the transfer market and can reap the benefits as such. It is their position at the top of the Premiership they must capitalise on first.