‘He’s impressed all of us’: Gary McAllister hints Rangers could sign Ianis Hagi permanently in the summer if he continues his stunning start to life at Ibrox after starring in dramatic Europa League win over Braga
- Ianis Hagi is currently on a six-month loan deal at Rangers from Genk
- The attacking midfielder, 21, has quickly become a fans’ favourite at Ibrox
- Hagi scored a late winner against Hibernian and starred in win over Braga
Gary McAllister says Rangers will be compelled to make Ianis Hagi’s move to Ibrox permanent if he continues to live up to his star billing.
The Romanian was instrumental in Steven Gerrard’s side coming from two goals down to defeat Braga at Ibrox on Thursday, a result which gives them every chance of progressing to the last 16 of the Europa League.
On loan from Belgian club Genk until the summer, Rangers secured first refusal on the 21-year-old in the event his parent club are open to cutting their ties with him.
Gary McAllister says Rangers could sign Ianis Hagi in the summer if his form continues
Hagi scored a late winner against Hibernian and starred in the Europa League win over Braga
Hagi’s performances have quickly turned him into a fans’ favourite in his short time at Ibrox
With Hagi already a fans’ favourite after also netting a late winner against Hibernian, Ibrox No 2 McAllister believes his impact to date already points towards the club’s board being asked to do whatever it takes to extend his stay beyond the summer.
‘If the lad keeps performing, then it’s something we’ve got to be looking at,’ he said.
‘The manager has the final say but he (Hagi) has impressed all of us and we want to keep this young man going and keep his confidence high. He has settled in very quickly with all the players and staff making him feel very welcome. He comes in with a smile which is always nice to see.
‘He’s enjoying training and Glasgow — and is quickly settling. He’s got an eye for a goal and a pass. He found the first 15 minutes against Hibs quite physical but he’s adapted really well since then.
Hagi, son of Romanian legend Gheorghe, is currently on a six-month loan deal from Genk
‘If you’re a player on Thursday night and scored a couple of goals in front of 50,000 fans singing your name, then I think you’d be enjoying it.’
Asked if the part Hagi played on a classic European night would increase the chances of a deal being done, McAllister replied: ‘I would say that’s another massive positive. The way he has settled is something that will bode well for the future. It’s been a good bit of recruitment.’
Superstar dad Gheorghe already believes his son is at the ideal club after watching his heroics from the Ibrox stands this week — and revealed that he has discussed Ianis’ future with Gerrard.
‘Ianis is fit, plays well and is happy,’ said the former Real Madrid and Barcelona legend. ‘He has clearly chosen the ideal team, the ideal club, and he is doing very well.
The 21-year-old was praised by his father in the aftermath of his performance against Braga
‘I want to say well done and congratulations to Rangers because they played a tremendous match. They have a chance of qualifying, but they are playing a very good team in Braga.
‘I don’t need to say anything to Ianis, he knows what to do. I did discuss him with Steven but that’s all I want to say about the night.’
Denying he shed tears of happiness at his son’s performance, a proud Hagi senior added: ‘I wasn’t crying! The reason it looked like there were tears in my eyes is because it was very cold.’
The only downside of an extraordinary Rangers victory was the yellow card Alfredo Morelos received for dissent, which means he will miss the return leg in Portugal on Wednesday.
Rangers’ win over Braga was marred by yet another yellow card shown to Alfredo Morelos
Beset by disciplinary problems in Gerrard’s first season, the Colombian appeared to have mended his ways before being dismissed against Motherwell and Celtic in quick succession.
Frustrated that harsh lessons do not appear to have been learned, McAllister said: ‘We will keep at him and keep nipping his ear. These moments… he has to rid them from his game.
‘It has happened before, it is a repeat offence. That is something we are continually working with him on and it is frustrating for us as well. But we have to keep in his ear and keep trying to better this fella’s discipline record and not to react.’
Thursday’s victory for Rangers, coupled with Celtic’s draw in Copenhagen, means Scotland is well on course to have two teams entering the Champions League qualifiers from 2021-22.
Morelos was also sent off against Celtic and Motherwell as disciplinary problems continue
‘That’s a massive boost for our game in Scotland and you should all be writing that, without a shadow of doubt,’ said McAllister after updated figures showed Scotland up to 14th place in the UEFA co-efficient table. ‘If Celtic and us can get through, it would be fantastic for Scottish football, a massive, massive plus with the importance of that and the kudos it brings.
‘I’ve been in England a long time and a lot of people from south of the border have not really had any interest in Rangers in the past. My phone is full of messages. They have watched the game. It’s sending a good message.
‘Both our big clubs have to try and get through this round.’
Gerrard’s side travel to play St Johnstone tomorrow without the services of Borna Barisic.
‘Borna took a bad blow to the kidney area, so he’s out for the weekend,’ added McAllister.
‘He was in a lot of pain and needs a few days’ rest. He’s sore and the next couple of days will be crucial in terms of the Braga game.
‘St Johnstone are going well and going to Perth is never easy. It’s a quick turnover and then the same again to go to Portugal next week, but we’ve got a big squad.’
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