Hagi signs! Exclusive interview with Emanuel Rosu

By Jamie Currie
 May 28, 2020

Back in January Romanian golden boy Ianis Hagi’s move to Rangers from Genk came somewhat out of the blue as he joined the club on a six-month loan deal, with an exclusive option-to-buy clause included.

Hagi had just moved to the Belgian club last summer from FC Viitorul following a successful Euro-U21  campaign where he captained Romania and scored in a 4-2 victory over England when Martin Tyler - Sky commentator – described him as “one of the best young talents in Europe,” as he helped Romania reach the semi-final.

The move to Belgium didn’t work out for Hagi, though. Despite his £4.2 million transfer fee, he made just 19 appearances, scoring three goals and assisting four. Unfortunately for Hagi, of those 19 appearances, only seven came from the start, so it was clear he had to move in the January window to keep his development on track and Rangers was that club.

However, Romanian football expert Emanuel Roşu explained why he felt the Rangers move for Hagi was a surprising one.

He said: “It came as a surprise, because it happened very fast.

“The signals we were getting is that Genk would try to settle him in and play him more.

“Rangers are a fantastic club; it can never be a bad decision [to move to a club like Rangers]. I had my doubts regarding the physicality of the league. And by that, I don't mean the contact between players, tackles and stuff.

“It's just that the game is very demanding in terms of energy, it needs a lot of intensity, you need to be ready to run and be very well prepared. Ianis doesn't always run back, even if I've seen major improvements even in that respect since he moved to Rangers.”

Hagi not only comes with great talent but he has had to have broad shoulders throughout his career as he, of course, is the son of Romanian football royalty Gheorghe Hagi.

Ianis like many other famous football sons have had to cope with the pressure and despite being just 21, he’s shown in spells that he can be a bit of a leader. Unforgettably, Hagi was the catalyst for the amazing 3-2 comeback win against Braga in the first leg of the last 32 Europa League tie.

When asked if being the son of Gheorghe had negative or positive impact on Ianis, Roşu remarked:

“Both. Positive because he grew up in a football-focused family, with a great model and a great football mind.

“Negative because there are a lot of haters out there and Hagi's mistakes get a 10 times bigger tax than others'. He needs to be strong mentally every day to face all the negative vibes.”

The move to Genk wasn’t Hagi’s first venture outside the Balkans, he made the move to Serie A side Fiorentina in July 2016 for £1.8 million.

Even though 17-year-old Hagi, who turned 18 in the October,  made just two appearances for the Viola, it is largely felt, by Roşu, that the move is one that benefitted Hagi and he feels as if the experience in Italy has helped him grow as a player, even if it may have been the wrong move at the wrong time.

“His dad wanted him to decide [what do to next in his career], so it was the kid's option to move.

 “He is gifted, but he needs to feel valued and protected. At Fiorentina he was promised certain things which didn't happen in the end. I think those things frustrated him.

“He kept waiting and waiting with no result; they kept telling him to wait because he wasn't ready. I don't think it was a bad move, as it allowed him to train with mature Serie A players. That helped him on a physical and mental level. He came back more mature, it was a part in the process of becoming a man.”

As the move has now been completed and the transfer fee reduced to less than £4 million to the delight of the support, the obvious question for Steven Gerrard and Michael Beale is where do they get the best out of Hagi? And that leads on to which system they feel is the best suited to help him provide the team the best possible output in terms of goals and assists.

We have witnessed being Hagi deployed as a right-winger, as a double no.10 in the 4-3-2-1 and a single no.10 in a 4-2-3-1. Given the evidence we have to go on, it’s clear Hagi is best utilised as a single no.10 and Roşu is in no doubt that he is good enough and capable enough for Steven Gerrard build his side around; when posed that question: If he feels Hagi is good enough for Gerrard to trust him with such a role, without hesitation, Roşu said:

“Definitely! He's a wonderful player and character. If you make him feel important and show him the love you did so far, I find it difficult to see him not being a success at Ibrox.”

Given Hagi’s talent it appears this move to Rangers could possibly – further down the line – help him return to play in leagues such as Serie A again in the future, but Rosu was more coy about the heights that the playmaker could possibly reach in his career.

“Unfortunately, I'm scared of making predictions, so I'll skip on that one.”

Hagi will become the third permanent Romanian player in Rangers’ history books following on from Daniel Prodan and Dorin Goian.

Roşu was keen to stress that there are many players within that Romanian market that could add the necessary quality to Steven Gerrard’s squad as his hunt for his first Rangers trophy moves into next season.

“A Rangers fan on Twitter asked me yesterday about Rivaldinho. He would do well there, I'm sure.  [George] Puscas from Reading would be a Rangers legend if you ever signed him.”

“There are a lot of players who could do a job at Ibrox. Let me tell you some more names: [Ionut] Nedelcearu, the 24-year-old centre-back from Ufa;  [Alexandru] Cicaldau, a 21-year-old central midfielder from CS Universitatea Craiova. And then there is the Steaua pair [Denis] Man, who is a 21-year-old right-winger and [Florinel] Coman, who is a 22-year-old left winger.”

Written by Jamie Currie (@jamiecurrie89)

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