Can Ianis Hagi make a difference for Rangers this season?
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Jonathan Klinsmann moved to St Gallen in the Swiss Super League before his famous father came and went at Hertha Berlin. Patrick Kluivert chose Roma rather than Barcelona to forge a path different from his fathers. Tom Ince continues to play in his dad's shadow in England but AC Milan youngster Daniel Maldini chooses to work in the family business. Any youngster trying to make a name for himself in football has a massive amount of pressure on his shoulders and adding the name of a legend to the back of his shirt increases that pressure massively. Every son of a famous footballer who laces up the boots himself faces these choices. Ianis Hagi's decision took him to Ibrox.
Rangers’ new 21-year-old forward deserves recognition in his own right due to his extremely impressive performances. After coming through his father’s football academy and playing under him at hometown club FC Viitorul, Ianis tried to flee the nest and make a name for himself elsewhere when he joined Fiorentina in 2016. Despite gaining his first of two nominations for European Golden Boy awards while in Italy, he made just two Serie A appearances, leading to a return to Viitorul two years later.
Following another season and a half in Romania during which he scored 20 goals in 53 games, Ianis moved to Genk in 2019. He caught the eye of several scouts while plying his trade in Belgium, netting three times and making four assists in 19 appearances, including a goal on his debut. Steven Gerrard came in for him in January. Rangers and Genk agreed to a six-month loan deal with an option to buy. Every time he takes the pitch for Gers, he offers a strong argument to trigger that option.
Gerrard uses Ianis in his central midfield three but gives the youngster license to venture forward. Hagi made his debut replacing Scott Arfield for the final 13 minutes in a 0-0 draw with Aberdeen. He showed brief flashes of his quality and was handed a start against Hibernian four days later. He rewarded his manager by scoring the winning goal but his performance featured more than flair. He displayed the graft Stevie G demands from every player, running after every ball, hounding opponents and chasing lost causes.
The young man started again for the recent 4-1 win at Hamilton Academical, playing a key role although not directly contributing to any goals. He earned high praise from Gerrard who marvelled at his ability to use both feet.
I remember practising my left foot at the age of four or five and mine is nowhere near as accurate as his.
Even this early in his Rangers career, Ianis appears destined to make his stay permanent. Albeit with a game in hand, the Light Blues must make up seven points on Celtic in the race for the Scottish Premiership title. Despite dropping five points in the week coinciding with Ianis Hagi’s arrival, they may well have found the necessary spark to reignite the title race.