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Exclusive: Rangers ready to swoop for St Mirren’s Vaclav Hladky and complete Ianis Hagi deal

© Ross MacDonald / SNS GroupSt Mirren's Vaclav Hladky
St Mirren's Vaclav Hladky

Rangers are looking to sign a back-up to Allan McGregor, and a move for St Mirren’s Vaclav Hladky is likely this week.

With Wes Foderingham and Jak Alnwick both being freed by the club, the Light Blues are searching for cover for former Scotland internationalist McGregor.

Robby McCrorie will return from a loan stint with Livingston, but Steven Gerrard wants an experienced keeper for the domestic and European campaigns that lie ahead.

And while Saints boss Jim Goodwin has pledged to do everything he can to hold on to Hladky – whose contract with the Buddies is about to expire – the 29-year-old Czech is very much the obvious option.

His form – an impressive 10 clean sheets in 30 Premiership games in the 2019-20 campaign – coupled with his imminent availability, has drawn attention from both sides of the border.

Before the last transfer window, he himself spoke of interest from Rangers, while Celtic are also known to be admirers.

Sunderland and, somewhat more exotically, MLS side Houston Dynamo, are others who have been linked.

It is the possibility of the switch to Ibrox, though, which would be likely to hold most appeal.

As much as McGregor is very much the dominant No. 1, at 38 years old he is approaching the end of his playing career.

Wages would not be likely to present a problem, with Goodwin having been frank enough to admit there would not be much they could do about it if someone was to come in with a bigger or better offer.

Signing a player with proven ability in the Scottish top flight would also fit in with Rangers new recruitment strategy, with Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson and Livingston’s Lyndon Dykes other summer targets.

© Ross Parker/SNS Group
Ianis Hagi

Meanwhile, Lazio are not ready to give up on their hopes of landing Ianis Hagi.

Rangers have first option to buy the 21-year-old Romanian under the terms of the loan deal struck with parent club Genk in January.

They look set to try to exercise it too, with reports in Hagi’s homeland stating a £4-million fee has been agreed between the clubs.

However, Lazio – whose manager Simone Inzaghi and sporting director Igil Tare are big admirers of the midfielder – are not convinced all is lost.

So much so, in fact, that even if Rangers take up their option to buy the son of 124-cap Romanian legend, Gheorghe, they would not rule out trying to land him by offering an instant seven-figure profit on their purchase.

Buying a player then selling him straight on would potentially fall foul of FIFA.

But the coronavirus crisis is liable to lead to a huge shake up of the regulations concerning this summer’s transfer windows, with many countries in a very different place in terms of their domestic campaigns.

Lazio would have the alternative, too, of hanging fire until January and going back in then to Rangers with an offer.

Adrian Mutu, the Romania Under-21s coach, knows all about Hagi, and believes an eventual switch to the Italian capital would be beneficial for his development.

“I like Hagi Junior. At his age, it is normal to have ups and downs,” he said.

“He played some good games in Scotland, and I think that showed he is well on his way to growing.

“I think he could do very well with Lazio. Inzaghi likes to play with a lot of pace and strike from deep, and for me that is a style of football Hagi Junior could adapt to very well.”

Genk paid Vittorul Constanta £4m for Hagi when he was just 19.

However, while he has impressed as a player of genuine potential, he was unable to hold down a regular first team place with the Belgians so is being allowed to move on.