STRENGTHENING his Rangers squad with new signings and so increasing the Ibrox club’s chances of enjoying success in the cinch Premiership, Europa League and Scottish Cup in the second half of the season has been Philippe Clement’s main focus during the past few weeks.

Clement hardly spoke about the tricky fourth round tie against part-time League Two minnows Dumbarton at The Rock this evening – a game which will only go ahead if the pitch passes a 1pm inspection - when he chatted to the media during his pre-match press conference at Auchenhowie yesterday.

He was quizzed about whether Ridvan Yilmaz was committed to the cause (he assured reporters the left back was despite persistent speculation about him moving on), Connor Barron of Aberdeen had been targeted (he refused to speak about individual players) and he was any closer to completing any deals (he had no updates to provide despite ongoing talks with a number of individuals).

The Belgian confessed he will be relieved when the January window closes and he can concentrate fully on coaching his charges on the training pitch and overseeing matches from the dugout. “It is a really busy spell,” he said. “When this period is finished then you can have a small breather on February 1.”

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Yet, the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager has still found time to examine both the make-up of his squad and recent transfer activity during the winter break and pinpoint areas which need to be improved going forward.

He is less than impressed that so many of his players (Borna Barisic, Leon Balogun, Ryan Jack, Jon McLaughlin, John Lundstram, Jon Mclaughlin and Kemar Roofe) are out of contract at the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

He also feels – possibly because of the funds, or lack of them, which are being made available to him by the board at the moment – there should be far more of an emphasis on developing and then cashing in on young talents going forward. 

Clement, though, is confident that his associates are just as concerned with their long-term ambitions as they are with their short and medium-term goals.

“We have a plan all together,” he said. “The most important thing in this period is that everyone is aligned. The club want to make an effort to do things.

“It has to be inside of the budget. We are not the most wealthy club in the world, I know that. We want to get transfers in that can have an impact now, but also add value for the next couple of years and can then be sold for bigger amounts.

The Herald: “Because when you look back over the last couple of years this is one thing that we have missed. We didn't have big outgoing transfers to get money in to do other things. So we need to get better in that. That's one of the targets.

“It's strange for a manager to talk about that, but I know what the story is. I want to help in that way so the club can grow in every sense.

“The top Belgian clubs can spend more money than Rangers for the moment. That’s the reality for the moment so like I said we need to build with the club a better model where there’s more money coming in.” 

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He added: “But it's not only about that. It's getting a good balance in everything in your squad. You need to have experienced players who can guide the story, together with me of course.

“You need a good balance. You need to have some young some prospects that you can let grow to a higher level than Glasgow Rangers, that needs to be the objective.

“You need players who are in contract in your club. To have five players out of contract this season? It's a crazy situation because you are throwing away money. They are no value any more if their contract is ended.

“There's a lot of work to be done in that way. But everybody in the club is working hard in that way. There is now a clear vision in how to bring money into the club by developing the players while getting results also and winning trophies.

“It's all of that together, it's not based on one thing. You don't come into a situation with players of value going out of contract and can leave for free. It's a situation that while I lead the club that can never happen.”

Clement, who has been without a raft of players due to injuries since replacing Michael Beale back in October, admitted he would prefer to be able to make signings throughout the season instead of during the summer and winter windows.

However, he accepts the situation and is confident of being able to bring in new faces before Thursday week.

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“For me it would be best to have it all season so you can adapt to situations where you have injuries or whatever,” he said. “Like it is in normal life. If someone is working in a company there is not one month where he can move to another company. It’s all year. 

“But I’m not the one deciding the rules about that luckily. I have enough to do. It’s like you play a game like Monopoly. You start the game and you know the rules so I’m not the one who needs to change the rules. 

 “In my day, it was different in that you started the season and ended the season as a team for the most part of my career. It created more togetherness. You knew that the day you start and that you finish with us all together. But the world has changed. There are much more movements.  

“In the beginning of my career, it was before the Bosman ruling. You were stuck with the team, almost. It’s good for the players they are more free now. It’s a good evolution like it is in society also.”