One of the highest priorities on Philippe Clement’s in-tray at Rangers comes in the form of nine summer signings.

Jack Butland has thrived from the off while Danilo has shown his quality in flashes but, because when it rains it pours, his first league start as a central No.9 ended after 15 minutes a month ago in Perth due to a clash of heads and subsequent fracture.

Sam Lammers has demonstrated a technical skillset without deciding matches, Jose Cifuentes is clearly still adapting to a new pace and environment on the pitch, Dujon Sterling has scarcely played, Kieran Dowell has faced lengthy time out with injuries while Cyriel Dessers' start at Ibrox has been one of the most difficult witnessed in recent years.

Abdallah Sima, the 22-year-old on-loan forward, is one in-form new arrival Clement will welcome. Fresh from a recall to the Senegal squad and six goals in his last six starts for Rangers, the Brighton attacker started to motor while everything else was grinding to a halt around him.

Michael Beale, as he did with Fashion Sakala, branded Sima as a No.9. The forward is similar in some ways to the Zambian that departed this summer in that he’s more effective as a wide forward than central striker and isn’t a back to goal option.

Like Sakala, it’s his goalscoring credentials that earn him a ‘No.9’ tag. However, while both players are fast, they’re athleticism is effective in different ways. Sakala was inconsistent as a ball carrier but when it clicked he was dangerous pushing off from the left flank, able to skip by challenges when isolated against defenders.

Sima has improved with the ball at his feet as confidence has spiked but unlike Sakala, the forward is not a touchline-recieveing dribbler most comfortable driving from out wide. It’s his running onto the ball, whether curved movement behind the line or late entries into the penalty box, that stands out.

Although Sima's first goal against Livingston in the Viaplay Cup could well have been pulled back by VAR it was the attacker’s willingness to run behind, as opposed to taking the ball into feet, that unsettled the visitors. 

Away at St Johnstone, replacing the injured Danilo, his central running threat down the side of either centre-back was obvious too - whether that be demonstrated by a first-half chance he should’ve squared or a narrowly offside Kemar Roofe goal that he did.

Of players who’ve amassed more than 300 minutes in the league this season, a number which discludes Danilo, Sima’s Goals/90 (0.55) and xG/90 0.58) rank the highest in the squad presently. It’s the same for his xG/Shot (0.18) - a metric which values the average quality of a player’s efforts - and touches in the opposition box (8.79).

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Sima’s scored three poacher goals of his seven at the club so far. Two strikes from corners against Real Betis and Livingston alongside a consolation goal in a match with Aberdeen before the international break.

There’s also been the standout top-corner finish against PSV, far-corner goal against Livingston in the League Cup, a recent finish at the far post against St Mirren and his impressive header against Aris which couldn’t mount a comeback in Cyprus.

Sima’s radar from, a still very small, 5.5 league 90 minutes is attached below in comparison to other wingers or attacking midfielders playing in the Scottish Premiership. Remember, the closer to the boundary lines the better.

What is this showing me?

  • We can gain a clear picture of what Sima has and has not offered for the Ibrox side so far. His shooting metrics are at the top end of the scale and his involvement in the penalty box qualifies the No.9 tag.
  • Partly due to where he’s been playing, the attacker is not creating much, if anything, in the way of chances for teammates or hitting high numbers with his dribbles.
  • Sima is profiling as far more of a wide goalscorer, or wide No.9, than a winger.

As mentioned, Sima’s best football at Sparta Prague normally arrived from the right. He often appears a more comfortable ball carrier on that side, with a better final pass than given credit for, and is more capable of dribbling on both sides - a luxury not afforded to him when playing on the left. The issue is, Rangers’ shape this season has been very intentionally lop-sided to build play and attack predominantly on the right. Moving Sima to the left has allowed him to arrive onto attacks instead of building them, with goals arriving as a result.

Look at Sima’s attempted passes into the box in the league this season. The attacker is far more likely to get to the byline and cutback on the right when compared to the left. That's a result of the team's aforementioned structure to build on that side and Sima's own style which is more conducive to attacking defenders as a dribbler on the right. Able to beat them for pace on the outside and threaten a penalty box entry, with the threat of driving inside buying him space on the outside.

Sima has been liberated to act as the side's second No.9 moving off the left channel. While a move to the left has decreased what he does outside of the box, recent numbers speak for themselves. 

Clement inherits a squad which needs confidence and direction. In Sima, he has one attacker who's started to already show those watching what he's all about.