IF the Rangers board had decided to cash in on Alfredo Morelos last January, there would have been grumbles of discontent and nods of understanding in equal measure amongst a divided Ibrox support.

If Steven Gerrard had elected to try and offload the striker to bank extra funds for his squad rebuilding job in the summer, fans would have been disappointed but ultimately trusted his judgement.

The multi-million pound offers from Beijing Renhe weren’t enough to tempt Rangers into doing business at the start of the year. Now, they shouldn’t sell Morelos for all the tea in China.

The 22-year-old has become the man that opposition players and fans love to hate but he is now adored by a Gers crowd that have taken him to their hearts.

He stands accused of having a short temper and of being a wind-up merchant but that edge is what makes him as effective. If they were honest, every fan would love a player just like him in their squad.

After watching Morelos turn, and ultimately win, the game in Rangers’ favour against Livingston, Gerrard insisted he would ‘fight tooth and nail’ to keep the forward for as long as possible. If it came to it, he would ‘fall out with people’.

That is how highly Gerrard rates the player and how integral he is to Rangers right now. He may be their most sellable asset, but his goals are priceless.

Not only is he central to the way that Rangers play and crucial to their ambitions of any silverware this term, Morelos has established himself as one of the best players in the country.

There may have been more than a touch of offside and a dose of controversy surrounding his latest effort against Hearts but the fall-out from a wrong refereeing decision shouldn’t take the credit away from Morelos.

Nobody could argue that he hadn’t strayed a yard or two ahead of the Jambos defence but the finish was sublime as he directed James Tavernier’s free-kick across target and into the corner of the net. It was a moment of magic and the defining one of the game.

“His finish is top drawer,” Gerrard said. “The ball came in at height with spin, and he put it into the corner of the side netting and that is a top finish by any striker in the world.

"I have no complaints about the offside. We would have an extra point in the Europa League if a decision went for Alfredo. Every manager says you get some and you lose some. One has gone our way, but good.”

The goal at Tynecastle was the 17th that Morelos has scored this season and he is now just one away from matching his tally in Light Blue from last term after writing his name in the SPFL history books by netting for a seventh consecutive Premiership outing.

The difference that Morelos makes to Rangers is crystal clear and the prospect of him being sold in January is now unthinkable for supporters and his manager.

Director of Football Mark Allen revealed in an exclusive interview with SportTimes last month that Rangers will target attacking reinforcements during the January window. That will be to supplement Morelos’ goals, not replace them, though.

There will come a time where it makes financial and football sense for Morelos to move on but that certainly isn’t now as Gerrard’s side set their sights on Premiership and Scottish Cup success this season.

There are still rough edges to his game and still moments where a lack of judgement threatens to cost him and his team but Morelos is now integral to the way Rangers play and in the form of his life.

That, of course, is mainly down to his goals but the way he leads the line, the way he hassles and harries, sums up the work ethic of Gerrard’s side.

So often a sullen, frustrated figure last season, Morelos is now playing with a smile on his face more often than not and the mischievous streak in his game and his character only further endears him to supporters.

For whatever reason, the credit that he rightly deserves has not always been forthcoming from those outside of Ibrox but there is no doubt about the esteem in which Morelos is held at Rangers.

The Colombian may not make many public utterances, but he does his talking on the park. His actions will continue to speak louder than words for Rangers.