BARRY FERGUSON reckons Rangers will welcome back the same highly-motivated Rino Gattuso as the one who left the club 14 years ago should the Italian midfielder seal a return to Ibrox.
Gattuso wants to secure a second stint in Light Blue some 14 years since Dick Advocaat punted him to Italian side Salernitana, after ending his glittering spell at AC Milan.
The 34-year-old is in constant dialogue with boss Ally McCoist, and is prepared to wait until the club's problems – including a final answer on whether Rangers can sign players – begin to clear before he makes a decision on his future.
McCoist has confirmed Gattuso is ready to reject massive cash offers to play in China and the Middle East as his wife Monica wants to return to Glasgow to be with her family.
And Ferguson insists Gattuso's make-up rules out any prospect of the World Cup winner returning simply to wind down his years in the game.
"I played for a spell with Rino just after he came to the club, and you'll only ever get him the one way," said Ferguson, who himself is one of a select few to have been a second-time around success at Rangers.
"His enthusiasm and desire was unbelievable and I don't think that will ever leave him.
"He is a winner and would want to come back and play with the same commitment and drive as he did the first time.
"From memory, I don't think he really wanted to leave. But he was being played at right-back and it was a big chance to get back to Italy.
"It's obviously been a difficult time for Rangers in the past few months, most notably for the fans, but it would be a huge boost if they could see him coming back.
"The last time I saw him on TV for Milan he still looked like he had plenty to offer."
Ferguson also dimissed the notion that you should never return to a club once you've left.
"People said to me it would never be the same, even though I was only away for 18 months," said the Blackpool man.
"But I came back, got to a Uefa Cup Final, won titles and cups and achieved plenty of success. There can be a lot made of age now. People sneer and say, 'he's 34 and past it'.
"Look around the game for examples of players still going strong in their mid-thirties, and the one thing you can be assured of with Rino is that his heart is always on his sleeve and he would give everything."