In the second part of our five-parter, it’s the turn of defender Filip Helander, who will also depart Govan tonight and if reports are true, swap Rangers for his old stomping ground Malmo and return home to Sweden.
The 30-year-old stopper is the pinnacle example of ‘what might have been’ because quite simply, his Rangers career gave a glimpse of a very good defender ruined by a torrent of injuries.
It’s hard to judge how good Helander actually was, because he was only fit for a truly risible 60 matches in four years, which is a return up there with Graham Dorrans and Jordan Rossiter, and in terms of his actual stats, the team conceded 31 goals in those 60 appearances. 18 in 31 in the league.
These are not amazing numbers, but his whoscored rating for 55 was a solid 7.11, which was the highest level he ever scored in his career.
Unfortunately for Helander, 17/18 was his best career season in terms of appearances (29 league-wise) and that was for Bologna, and that was 5 years ago now. For Rangers 21 was his best.
Helander was pretty big money, £3M, and it’s safe to say Rangers did not get value for this. He joined us aged 26 with all the pizzazz of a great career ahead of him – a defender with Champions League experience with aforementioned Swedish hometown side, and a solid CV in the tough Serie A with-then manager Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Bologna.
We were getting a Sweden international, and that’s a pretty good resume to have.
Sadly, it just didn’t work out here – his performances were generally good, but not great, and often sluggish – he was always ‘coming back from injury’ and a bit off the pace.
When it came to ‘brute force’ defending – just the pure art of stopping the ball, he was good – he could read play well and knew how to do his job.
And he held himself well – never complained, never moaned, just quietly carried himself with the dignity we expect – he represented us well.
But it was, regrettably, a bad signing overall that hasn’t worked out for either party and it was of course the correct decision to let him go. As we said last summer, as the club freed Leon Balogun, Helander back then could count himself fortunate his deal wasn’t expiring or he’d be heading off as well. And a year later, he is.
We wish him well of course, whatever path he chooses now, but have to admit the signing really was a bit of a waste of the money invested.
Helander will know that as much as anyone, and he wanted to make this work, but it absolutely did not.
With our luck, he will now be injury-free for the rest of his career, which would be irony personified.
Regardless, once a Ranger always a Ranger, and we do hope he finds peace in his next gig.