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Record Nathan Patterson deal has set the Rangers bar as suitors line up for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s key men

The first major sale at Ibrox was always going to be telling and a marker has now been laid down by the board and sporting director Ross Wilson.

A successful player trading model will be one of the foundations that Rangers are built upon in the coming years. Indeed, it has been described as one of the ‘four pillars’ of the club by John Bennett, the deputy chairman.

There have been times in recent years when Bennett and his fellow directors must have been tempted to do business and cash in but their resolve has paid off and the silverware in the trophy cabinet is the ultimate reward.

That gamble cannot be repeated too often, however, and the moment is now right for the champions to start to offload some of their most prized assets and begin the next phase of the squad evolution at Ibrox.

They will do so, of course, without the brightest young talent in their ranks following Nathan Patterson’s move to Everton this week. As far as exits go, this one was palatable for supporters to stomach.

Had Alfredo Morelos been sold at various stages over the last couple of seasons or Ryan Kent shipped out before a ball was kicked on the road to 55 then fans would rightly have reacted very differently towards the Ibrox hierarchy.

In the case of Patterson, there is a realisation that the timing was right for a variety of reasons. The most important, as always, was the bottom line as Alan Hutton’s transfer record fee was broken at long last.

Over the coming months and years, Rangers could, and should, smash that target on several occasions. Morelos and Kent will attract offers higher than the £12million that Everton paid for Patterson, while Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara are worth even greater sums.

Such fees can only be demanded in the right circumstances, however, and that is why the Patterson transfer was as important for Rangers as they set out their position in the market. Clubs that come calling now know they must do so with cash in their pockets.

Had Rangers accepted Everton’s initial approaches in the summer – the first of which was around £5million and was described as a ‘joke’ by Steven Gerrard – then they would have significantly weakened their hand when it comes to future wheeling and dealing.

Every player has a price and every asset is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Rangers are now in a position of relative strength, though, and can hold their own at the negotiating table.

“It is true that there were previous discussions last summer but we were always clear that in our model players will only leave at the right time and for the right number,” Wilson said as Rangers confirmed Patterson’s departure on the day that he signed a five-and-a-half year deal at Goodison Park.

“We have now established a significant club record and there will be even further financial incentives for Rangers as Nathan’s Everton career evolves.

“We were very clear in these discussions that Nathan is a player and person who we hold in the highest regard and the deal had to represent a club record for Rangers.

“Since I joined the club, I’ve been clear that we would be strong in the market and our chairman and board have been prepared to reject some significant sums for our players, whilst we have all acknowledged that we would sell the right player at the right time for the right value. I must say in this case also, this is the correct destination.”

The sale of Patterson is the first significant bit of business that Rangers have done for some time and it will not be the last as clubs continue to monitor a group of players that have achieved at home and abroad.

Supporters will naturally be reluctant to see the likes of Kamara, Aribo, Kent or Morelos go but there should be a realism about Rangers’ place in the football food chain and the financial situation at Ibrox.

Players are not being flogged to the first bidder in an attempt to keep the lights on and pay the bills. Instead, assets can now be moved on and replaced with careful consideration and due planning.

The summer transfer window is shaping up to be a busy one for Van Bronckhorst and Wilson as the Dutchman puts his stamp on the squad he is aiming to guide to the title and deals with the immediate futures of a handful of his most important players.

That will now become the next challenge for Wilson. Rangers’ recruitment in recent times hasn’t had the strike rate success that is expected and needed and mistakes will become increasingly costly as stalwarts of the group head for the exit door.

Wilson’s stock with supporters is high right now. The appointment of Van Bronckhorst was a popular choice, while the deal for Patterson was only acceptable because of the structure that he negotiated.

If Rangers are able to bank a Champions League bounty this term, that will naturally make the rebuilding job ahead of the new campaign an easier task.

But such an undertaking will also be aided by ensuring that fees for those that do leave are maximised and that is an area that Rangers must now master on a regular basis.

The first one should not ultimately be the biggest one. It was the most significant, however, and the champions have laid down a foundation in their business dealings.

Time will tell just how high the bar can be raised. It took 14 years for Hutton’s record to be broken but Patterson’s time as a history-maker should be significantly shorter.

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