Rangers star Ianis Hagi faces a sweat over his fitness for Tuesday’s Champions League QR3 second leg against Malmo at Ibrox – and the Romanian’s creativity is going to prove crucial for the Light Blues this season as they defend their Premiership crown.
Hagi limped out of last weekend’s win over Livingston after a shocking tackle before pulling up during the warm-up before the first leg against Malmo in midweek.
That forced him to miss yesterday’s shock defeat by Dundee United and left Steven Gerrard hoping he will make it in time for Tuesday’s crunch Ibrox clash.
But it’s not just Tuesday night that Hagi is going to be key for Rangers.
It has been obvious for a while that Rangers have lacked a creative spark in the middle of the pitch, Gerrard himself saying as much on a few occasions, but so far there’s been no real progress in bringing someone in.
John Lundstram has been touted as a possible solution but the former Sheffield United midfielder really doesn’t appear to be that sort of player and looks far more at home in deeper role similar to those occupied by the likes of Glen Kamara and Steven Davis.
Last season, Hagi was generally used on the right of the front three but so far this term the Rangers number 7 has been used in a more central role.
There’s little question over how good the Romanian can be and he’s shown before that he’s more than capable of creating something out of nothing.
While there is plenty of threat down the flanks for the Gers in the likes of James Tavernier, Borna Barisic, Scott Wright, Ryan Kent and others, there’s not a huge amount of attacking influence through the middle.
Scott Arfield has been one of Rangers’ biggest attacking threats from midfield in recent years but the Canadian international is getting on a bit now and is unlikely to hold down a regular starting spot.
Joe Aribo is another option but Gerrard still seems unsure where the Nigerian best fits his team and constantly flits between a spot in midfield or as part of the front three for Aribo.
Hagi has had a similar problem, with Gerrard moving him central a few times without ever really giving him a prolonged chance to show he can really impress in the centre of the pitch.
However, with the Gers midfield clearly needing someone who can provide that spark and turn nothing into something, Hagi could well be the answer for Gerrard.
Links with Dutch midfielder Joey Veerman have seemingly come to nothing – no real surprise given the fee touted – and Rangers may have exactly what they are looking for already at the club in Hagi.
In other news, £70m player linked to Arsenal only today once sent a 9-word tweet about Arteta