Jose Cifuentes has been the subject of long-running transfer interest from Rangers.

The 24-year-old midfielder is out of contract with LAFC later this year, currently playing in the active MLS season. With links of an Ibrox move so strong, Melvin Dupper analyses what he could offer Michael Beale in the Ibrox engine room.


Cifuentes has played most of his career as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation and this season, he’s predominantly played as an attacking-oriented right central midfielder in a 4-3-3 single pivot formation. He can also be used at No.10, even if that’s not his favoured position.

Cifuentes is at his absolute best as an attacking-minded box-to-box midfielder, able to arrive in the final third. With superb technical skills, the Ecuadorian likes to outplay opponents by way of dribbles or cutbacks. He also possesses great vision, helping him find teammates and open spaces on the pitch. At his most dangerous running and passing in the final third, he’s not shy of a shot either.

The LAFC man has a very strong right foot, rarely using his left. He can turn quickly on his right side with a low centre of gravity. What’s more, the midfielder hasn’t suffered serious injury problems in his career.

The below percentile rating chart compares Cifuentes to other central midfielders in the MLS with at least 500 minutes played in the last calendar year. For example, a score of 100 means that he outscores 100% of his fellow MLS central midfielders.

What is this telling me?

  • Defensively he does not seem to be very active when looking at his possession-adjusted interceptions and sliding tackles, since he only hits the 21st and 15th percentile. But his duels played are above average.
  • Cifuentes’ absolute strength shows in his creative and attacking numbers. With plenty of forward, progressive and passes into the final third. His distribution isn’t very accurate, but that’s likely owing to the type of risky actions he’s trying.

READ MORE: Rangers transfer squad profiles: The pieces Michael Beale must add

  • He attempts plenty of drives and boasts very high xG and shots per/90, with lots of touches in the opposition box showing how active he is in this regard. There's no doubting the position of the pitch he thrives in.

How does he act in possession?

Cifuentes likes to play high up the pitch in possession and make himself available in the final third. With a strong understanding of space, the midfielder can dribble beyond and get into the box often, something that’s reflected in his shot map from the past year. Half of Cifuentes’ total shots are from within the penalty area, for a midfielder, he’s very active in the box.

However, he’s significantly underperformed his xG and perhaps attempts too many shots from distance. A preference to use his right is evident too.

Cifuentes is also able to create for teammates in the final third, with passes in behind or crosses from deep. Undoubtedly, he’s at his most threatening when around the opposition’s final third.

Cifuentes is involved in his side’s build-up play and can prove effective in this area. He’s relatively press-resistant, if overly reliant on his right foot. His ability to pass over a long distance can also be a huge asset when operating deeper in the pitch.

What about his defensive game?

The data showed us earlier that Cifuentes isn’t the most active central midfielder against the ball, something he’d have to improve under Beale, but what does the eye test say?

Cifuentes is at his best out of possession when pressing high and playing a front-footed game, with a big engine and energy for days. This trait would suit the approach Beale’s side take off the ball. The overview below shows how many recoveries in the final third Cifuentes has made over the last year and where those actions took place. The midfielder stacks up well against the competition.

Cifuentes is an active participant off the ball, even if his defensive positioning can sometimes look a bit off. However, his engine to recover and range of raw attributes is a huge positive.

Here’s an example. Cifuentes loses the ball high up in the opposition’s half. He sprints back right away in order to recover the ball, allowing him to prevent a dangerous attack.

A strong fit?

Cifuentes is a very good offensive-minded box-to-box midfielder, who could thrive under the tutelage of Michael Beale at Ibrox.

With strong attributes in the final third, impressive energy off the ball, a good technical base and versatility. Although elements of his game require refining, at the price reported this would prove a sound acquisition for the Ibrox side and a stylistic fit.