ALFREDO MORELOS’ scoring rate dropped alarmingly after Rangers returned from the winter break.
The controversial Colombian striker had claimed 28 goals before the turn of the year as Steven Gerrard’s side made a sustained attempt to derail Celtic’s attempt for nine in a row.
The Gers won 2-1 at Parkhead on December 29 to cut the champions’ lead at the top of the table to two points with the challengers having a game in hand.
It looked as though they had a genuine chance to reach the Premiership pinnacle, but defeats from Hearts, Kilmarnock, Hamilton Accies and draws against Aberdeen and St Johnstone saw the wheels come off as they dropped 13 points off the pace.
Gerrard was also left shell-shocked when he saw his team knocked out of the Scottish Cup by rock-bottom Hearts at Tynecastle to virtually put paid to any hopes of silverware success in his second year in charge of the Glasgow giants.
Morelos struggled to make an impact as the Govan outfit toiled – but his frontline partner Jermain Defoe has no doubt the 23-year-old hitman can score goals at ANY level.
The 37-year-old on-loan Bournemouth attacker, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “Alfredo has really impressed me – he’s a natural goalscorer – I think people need to understand that he is still young.
“He has made mistakes, but he is still young, he is still learning. I feel this season, particularly the first part, he improved a lot. His link-up play, he was keeping the ball for us, scoring goals and just his all-round game had improved so much.
“Even away from that, he is funny in the changing room, as you can imagine, he’s a character. He is a nice guy.
“It is difficult for him because he is Colombian, his family are not here. He is here with his wife and sometimes she goes back and sees her family, so sometimes he is just here on his own. Obviously, we try and help him because he is a young lad. But he is a top, top player, a natural goalscorer.”
Asked what level Morelos could play at if he moved to England, Defoe, with 13 league strikes before the lockdown, insisted he could score goals for anyone.
The one-time England international added: “I feel like he would need to be in the right team, a team that creates chances because I believe that if he gets chances at any level he can score. He has got that arrogance that he believes that he can score in every game.
“You even see it in training sometimes, he misses chances and then you think: ‘Yeah, but you had no right to score from there’. But he still believes that he can go into every game and he can score.
“Last season, he scored 30 goals, this season he has scored 29 goals and he’s gone through a spell where he hasn’t scored for a bit. You can see he gets frustrated because he has got that desire – he wants to score goals.
“I believe that in the right team, if you create chances for him, he will score.”