Struggling to get regular game time towards the end of the first half of the season at KRC Genk, Ianis Hagi was sent to Rangers in Scotland on loan for the rest of the campaign.
The 21-year-old has an option to buy in his deal, which, looking at how he has kicked things off under Steven Gerrard, the Scottish Premiership club are looking likely to trigger, and his good start hasn’t gone unnoticed in his home country.
Already capped 10 times for his national team, the young forward needed to find regular game time if he was to increase that number, and Mihai Stoichiţă, the Romanian Football Federation technical director, spoke to Digisport Matinal about Hagi’s situation.
Asked what rating out of 10 he would give the youngster’s start at Rangers, he said: “Eight. You cannot generalise because there have been periods of play; some very good, others less good. So I cannot give a ten because otherwise I would be a guy who has no sense of measure.”
Stoichiţă, while admitting the Scottish Premiership might not be as good of a league as a whole as the Jupiler Pro League, explained it was simply important for Hagi to be playing rather than struggling for game time at Genk.
Furthermore, he feels the environment he is in will help the new Rangers starlet going forward.
He said: “He’s playing in a hostile environment, a hostile climate, with extremely tough opponents, but he’s managing. Everyone was saying that Hagi was physically in trouble. Well, if he plays alongside those strong determined guys, it makes you wonder.”
It’s clear that, so far, there have been more positives from the loan deal than negatives, as exemplified by his double against Braga in the Europa League to win the game last week.
And he wasn’t the only one to praise Hagi for his performances, as Nicolae Dică, Romania’s assistant manager, also took some time to comment to Telekom Sport and echoed Stoichiţă.
He said: “It is important for him and others from abroad to play. For Ianis, it is important to find an important team where he plays. He also had good performances, and this is important for him, but also for us.
“Many didn’t think he could play in Scotland, but here he showed us the opposite. Plus, he plays in a position he’s not used to. Rangers play 4-3-3 with him on the right, but Ianis is doing very well.”