THERE have been times over the last six seasons when those around Alfredo Morelos - be it his managers, his team-mates or his supporters - have wondered if they could live with him any longer.

Now it looks like each will have to come to terms with living without him as the striker seemingly edges towards the Ibrox exit door once again. This time, there is no way back from the edge.

The closing months of his contract look like being the final ones that Morelos will spend as a Rangers player. If that proves to be the case, his departure will be the last act of a long goodbye, a reason to be as frustrated as well as appreciative.

Morelos has been good for Rangers and Rangers have been good for Morelos. But it is impossible to come away from the feeling that both should have achieved so much more together and that the Colombian has been an unfulfilled talent at Ibrox.

It is easy for sections of other supports to mock the man they love to hate and deride the stories that have linked him with some of the biggest clubs on the continent in recent years. The level that he operated at times and the level that he seemed able to reach merited such discussions but a £16million approach from Lille three years ago was the best offer that was put on the table.

Those that only look at life with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight will say that Rangers should have taken the money on that occasion. As Morelos prepares to leave Ibrox, the fact that he will do so on a free - having been one of their most valuable assets for so long - only adds to the sour taste for supporters.

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Official confirmation that Morelos will depart has not yet arrived and his next destination has not been confirmed amid links to Sevilla, but it would be a surprise now if the Colombian opts to extend his stay once again. That is, of course, if Michael Beale decides he is worth another new contract and another chance at Rangers.

Beale has been fulsome in his praise of Antonio Colak in recent weeks. Those words and the actions, as Colak was selected to start in the wins over Kilmarnock, Hibernian and Raith Rovers, have felt like a shot across the bows of Morelos.

Speaking after that Scottish Cup win at the weekend, Beale pointed to the seven goals and five assists that Morelos had contributed over the last 14 matches and credited him for performing in that time. The call for Morelos to 'up his energy' has been made by various managers at various stages and Beale confirmed that no contract offer had yet been put on the table.

"Alfredo's situation is slightly different," Beale said when asked if he would like Morelos to stay. "He's been at the club a long time and I need to see a little bit more from him day-in, day-out. When he's played, he's been fine, but I want some more energy in the final third.

"Can he provide that? If he can, he can be a better option than he has been in the last few months. I just think that's fair, everything I'm saying here, I've told him to his face as well."

A six-year stint at Ibrox would not have been the plan that was sold to Morelos when he completed his move from HJK Helsinki and there is a sense that his Rangers career has run its course. In truth, his game has stalled and he is in need of a move and a kick-start.

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The blueprint for project players is to sign them for little outlay, improve them, win with them and then sell when their stock is high. Rangers have missed the moment with Morelos and he is a shadow of the striker that once dominated Europa League defences on his way to becoming the club's record scorer on the continent.

Rangers were overly reliant on Morelos for too long. He was the talisman of the team but when his form and fitness fluctuated, when his mentality and physicality where questioned, the side and the squad often looked bereft.

His influence in recent months has waned and he is on course for his lowest goal return at Ibrox. He sits seven behind Colak, having played two games more than the Croatian, this season and will do well to get to the 18 mark that he has hit twice or the tally of 17 from the 55 campaign.

Those numbers are well below the 30 and 29 that were scored during seasons 2018/19 and 2019/20 and he is approaching what should be the peak years of his prowess with questions to ask himself over just where he is heading in the game. For reasons only he will know, Morelos is not on the trajectory he should have been.

His early terms saw him easily outshine the likes of Eduardo Herrera, Jason Cummings and Umar Sadiq. Kyle Lafferty and Jermain Defoe provided backup but they, like Roofe or Cedric Itten, were never going to replace Morelos in terms of style or substance.

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The same can be said of Colak and Fashion Sakala. Both have their respective qualities, but neither can operate with the same raw bullishness that Morelos does when he is at his best and Rangers have been a less effective outfit so often over the years when the Colombian has not been in the team.

Rangers have never found a forward that could replicate or replace Morelos. Now they have no choice but to, regardless of whether he remains at Ibrox or not and the deal, or that should be deals, that Beale does to strengthen his attack will be the most significant of the summer window.

The Morelos Identikit - in terms of a younger, motivated player with rough edges but a clear talent - is one that Rangers should follow once again and Beale needs a forward that can lead the line on his own as well as link play to a partner or those in behind. An eye for goal is an obvious necessity.

The presence of Morelos, that hope and belief that he would hit the heights once again, has perhaps lessened the urgency for Rangers to find someone to fill his boots at times. That has proven to be a mistake at different points and Rangers must now recruit a reliable, robust forward if Beale is to deliver the silverware that is demanded in the coming seasons.

Morelos will leave with a legacy of memories but not enough medals. He has been a colourful, controversial character at times but a striker of real quality and potential at others and it would be wrong for his detractors to be allowed to shout over those who have savoured him at his best.

These should be the final weeks of his time at Rangers. Only the man himself can determine where the game takes him next and whether Rangers prove to be the foundation or the glass ceiling in his career.