We’re delighted to welcome former Rangers manager Alex McLeish as our exclusive columnist. Each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at Ibrox…
Alex McLeish believes Ianis Hagi probably arrived at Rangers without realising how big the club actually is earlier this year.
Hagi, 22, joined the Light Blues on an initial loan in January before signing permanently in the summer from Genk in a deal worth £4million [BBC Sport].
The Romania international has blown hot and cold at Ibrox but there was no denying about which way his performance went on Wednesday night in the 3-0 win against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
Hagi managed to get himself on the scoresheet in Perth to help ensure the Gers go into Christmas day unbeaten in the Scottish Premiership.
While it was brilliant to see him score, it was also a superb display by the Romanian.
Hagi’s been getting better and better in recent weeks and ex-Ibrox boss McLeish reckons that could be because he underestimated how hard it would be to play regularly for Steven Gerrard at such a big club.
“Hagi probably came across thinking he would be a fixture but realised how big a club Rangers is,” McLeish told Ibrox News.
“He’ll realise that this he’s in a queue of attackers and may the best man win. He’s not an out-and-out striker, of course, he’s more a winger or a number 10. But he’ll assist and get you a goal like he did [against St Johnstone] last night.
“His goal last night gave him a little bit of confidence.”
According to stats by Wyscout, Hagi ranks first for key passes per 90 minutes [1.33], smart passes per 90 minutes [2.22] in the Scottish Premiership while he also ranks second for through passes per full game [2.66].
Hagi has started just nine Scottish Premiership matches for the Light Blues but based on his average performance, he’s the best playmaker in the country.
Rangers fans were concerned about Gerrard’s insistence upon playing Hagi out wide earlier in the season but the more he’s played there, the more he has gotten used to it.
And on that goal against St Johnstone, you have to say that McLeish makes a very promising point about Hagi possibly playing with more confidence now.
In other Rangers news, Michael Stewart was wowed by this “impressive” player in the win over St Johnstone.