Steven Gerrard can claim credit for the scramble for Ianis Hagi’s services that promises to deliver Rangers a £4-million-plus payday.
That is the view of former Torino striker, Rolando Bianchi, whose one-time employers Lazio are ready to compete with Real Madrid to sign the Romanian on a permanent basis.
Under the terms of the loan deal Rangers struck with Hagi’s parent club, Genk, in January, they have the option to sign the midfielder at its end for an agreed fee of some £4.5m.
Zinedine Zidane’s Real are monitoring the situation closely.
Sources in Spain expect Hagi to move to Glasgow permanently in the summer, and for the Light Blues to then double their money by selling the player on.
Bianchi, who was himself bought by Manchester City for £9m 13 years ago, reckons it will be a decent investment.
“Hagi is definitely a great talent,” said the Italian.
“He is quick, very good with both feet and has excellent technical skills.
“Although he is only 21, he has already been a member of his national team for a couple of years.
“His experience in Scotland has been great for him.
“He does not have a great physique, and playing in a championship where there is a lot of body-to-body contact has helped him find the strength to fight.
“That will make him ready for the likes of Italy or Spain.
“Having Gerrard as his manager has also made Hagi a better player, and a more-valuable player, too.
“I consider the relationship between the two men important from a psychological and character point of view.
“Gerrard had a long time at the very highest level.
“He was one of the greatest midfielders in the history of the Premier League, so he knows how to manage situations, stress, good and bad moments.
“He will have been passing on that knowledge to Hagi and it will have helped him develop.”
Real Madrid have an advantage in their pursuit of the midfielder as his father, Gheorghe, starred at the Bernabeu in the early 1990s, so a move there would hold sentimental appeal for the family.
But despite the pull of the Spanish giants, Bianchi reckons the midfielder could well end up in Rome.
“In my opinion, Lazio would be a very good move for him, and one which will hold plenty of appeal,” he said.
“Simone Inzaghi is among the best coaches in Europe when it comes to improving the players under his charge.
“He would have the potential to form a fantastic partnership with Luis Alberto, but Inzaghi could exploit his flexibility to employ him in almost all roles, in midfield and in attack.
“That versatility is important because it means he is a joker you can play when you need to.
“All coaches like to have that type available to them.”
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