The ex-Bayern Munich player and Germany international has held talks with chief executive Graham Wallace about the role.
The 41-year-old was sporting director at Bayern Munich for three years before parting company with the Bundesliga giants in 2012.
Wallace sees Nerlinger, who spent four injury-plagued years at the Gers between 2001 and 2004, as the perfect man for the new role.
He met with the senior Rangers official in London after Wallace returned from the Narsa conference in Toronto last week.
The appointment has not been confirmed and other condidates from across Europe are also in the running.
But Nerlinger is certainly the frontrunner to land it after impressing greatly at an initial interview.
The six-times capped player studied International Business at the Munich Business School after he was forced to retire aged just 33 in 2006.
He was initially appointed team manager at Bayern in 2008 and then went on to succeed Uli Hoeness as technical manager.
He became general manager of the five-time European champions shortly after that. He was replaced by Matthias Sammer in 2012.
The possibility of appointing a chief football operations officer was first raised in Wallace's business review.
The review stated: "The person in the new position will have specific responsibility for developing best in class football operations support.
"They will support the football manager and the board and will concentrate initially on developing player talent identification, scouting and recruitment capability."
Rangers manager Ally McCoist appeared to give a cool reception to the prospect of a chief football operations officer being appointed when asked about it in April.
But he subsequently said if the final decision on player targets lay with the manager then he would be in favour of it.
He said: "I don't know what a director of football would cover. If the manager tells him which talent to identify, then that's a good idea.
"There's no point in someone identifying talent that the football club or team don't want, or don't need. That wouldn't be a good idea.
"But obviously if he was identifying talent which the football staff want, then that would be a good idea."