Steven Gerrard should pick up the phone to Leeds United today and tell them not to bother wasting their time this summer
Because if Rangers are to go on from here not just to wrap up a league and cup double - as they almost certainly will after cruising through yet another derby day - but to carve out a period of extended domestic dominance then Ryan Kent will have to be kept around for the ride.
The Elland Road outfit have tried twice already to lure him away, first from Liverpool and then again last summer but their reluctance to make an offer which could not possibly be refused has allowed Kent time to become the key attacking force in Gerrard’s starting XI.
So crucial has he become to what Gerrard is achieving in Glasgow that Kent is now just about priceless, no matter what number Marcelo Bielsa might come up with.
He wasn’t the best player on the pitch yesterday. He wasn’t even the best player in a blue shirt.
Not for the first time, Steven Davis, was head and shoulders above the rest and Gerrard will have to hope that the veteran’s legs have another couple of years left in them yet.
It was the Northern Irishman who came up with the opening goal, smashing a spectacular overhead kick beyond the grasp of Scott Bain to set Rangers on their way into the last eight.
But it was a piece of brilliance from Kent which unlocked Celtic’s defences for the first time and led to Davis coming up with his stunning moment of improvisation.
A drop of the shoulder and a swivel of the hips left Scott Brown in his dust and even though Kent was then chopped down by Stephen Welsh the damage he had done to disorganise Celtic’s last line in that one instant proved to be devastating.
He was unlucky too not to get the final touch on Rangers second goal but his sheer determination to get across Jonjoe Kenny caused the Scouser to panic and bundle the ball into the back of his own net.
And it is these explosive contributions which have been blowing holes in defences all over the country since this season got up and running in deathly silence and behind closed doors - when Kent fired a winner at Pittodrie to get his team tearing out of the starting blocks. They’ve hardly stopped to take a breath ever since and now they were able to swat Celtic aside without breaking stride.
Yes, it could have been different had Odsonne Edouard not fluffed his lines from the penalty spot in the second half but then that’s all Celtic can take from this catastrophic campaign. Ifs and buts.
Kent and Rangers, on the other hand, do not need to go searching for excuses. They are too busy rampaging over the horizon towards the club’s first Double in 12 years.
It will be Gerrard’s intention now to push on from this platform and to build a lasting legacy on top of it. Which is precisely why the manager will be telling his own board that Kent is one player on whom they simply can’t afford to cash out.
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In fact, Kent represents the embodiment of the difference between these two sides. While Celtic will rake in a small fortune from selling Edouard this summer, on yesterday’s form they might be better off without him.
The Frenchman missed a sitter as well as a penalty kick and he continues to operate with all the conviction of a player who wishes to be somewhere else.
Kent, on the other hand, performs with a combination of enthusiasm, urgency and menace as if he was made for this very environment.
Gerrard will have other issues to resolve this summer. He might be relatively new to the managerial business be’s been around the block often enough to know what happens next. There will be offers made for some of his most influential players but not all of them are so close as Kent is to being considered irreplaceable.
Gerrard made a huge call before a ball had been kicked by giving Nathan Paterson the nod to start at right back even though skipper James Tavernier was fit enough to take a place on the bench, which just goes to prove the point.
Patterson, for his part, turned in the kind of front footed display which will add significant weight to the argument that he is indeed ready to be promoted into Steve Clarke’s squad for the Euros.
For John Kennedy, not so much thinking time required. The absence of James Forrest made the Celtic manager’s mind up for him. Back to the diamond he went, safe in the knowledge that this formation had already proved robust enough to withstand whatever Rangers could throw at it last time out.
But the entire structure was dismantled after only nine minutes, the moment Kent got on the turn, and the truth is that they seldom looked capable of recovering.
When the lead was doubled, in 33 minutes, this tie was effectively but over, even despite those second half chances. Ultimately, there was nothing much more from Celtic than a token effort and a great deal of huffing, puffing and questionable body language.
They haven’t just lost three trophies this season, they appear to be bereft of the spirit and desire which underpinned their own years of dominance. In Brown, they are also about to lose the glue which has been keeping the whole thing together for so long.
That Brown was Celtic’s best midfield player again just highlights how badly he will be missed when he checks in at Aberdeen.
Such is life in football. Nothing lasts for ever.
But Gerrard will want to make sure Kent’s relationship with Rangers has a while to run yet.