Exclusive: Smith assesses reported Rangers targets Hagi and Ferguson
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Exclusive: Smith assesses reported Rangers targets Hagi and Ferguson

Gordon Smith says Ianis Hagi is a player full of potential who could blossom into a star if he signed a permanent deal at Rangers, while he thinks Lewis Ferguson would be a better fit at Ibrox than Lyndon Dykes.

Amid the global health crisis, the exact parameters of the summer transfer window are as yet undetermined.

But after a dismal start to 2020 saw the Gers fall 13 points behind Celtic before the league was brought to a halt, there’s little question their squad needs to be bolstered before the beginning of next season.

Rangers’ Premiership title challenge fell apart following the winter break. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Former Gers star and director of football, Smith – who won a treble during his time as a player at Ibrox – says it is crucial the recruitment team are on the lookout for more than just talent, though.

“One of the things I’ve always said is that it’s not just about ability when you play for a club like Rangers,” Smith told Rangers News. “Jock Wallace used to say it a long time ago when I was there – ability is only one aspect of it, the character is a big factor.”

“You have to be able to deal with playing for Rangers, you have to deal with being the favourites, you have to deal with the fact that if you lose two games in a row, you’re in a disastrous area. So it’s about getting the right kind of characters in and putting them in the team.

“Not every player can handle it. We’ve seen a lot of good players sign for the Old Firm who just can’t handle the demands.”

Multiple sources have suggested that Rangers are close to finalising a permanent deal worth €5 million for Ianis Hagi [Het Laatste Nieuws], the playmaker who made 12 appearances as a loanee over the second half of the season just past.

As far as Smith is concerned, the Romania international is far from the finished article but he does believe he has the ability required to eventually become a major hit.

“For that kind of money, for a young player who is still potential, I think it would be a signing that would have a little bit of risk to it,” said the former Rangers and SFA executive.

“I don’t think he’s established yet but you can see the skill he has, as a creative player. He can make goals and he can score goals and therefore, you’re thinking, if his career moves along the way his dad’s did, then that would be very very cheap to get a player of that kind of ability at €5 million.”

“But you never can tell, we’ve seen it many times in the past – a player who is an outstanding young player but once teams get to know more about them, then they don’t progress the way they are expected to.”

Hagi in Euro 2020 Qualifying action against Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Asked if Hagi would be more effective if deployed in a central position, Smith added: “I think if you got the right players around him and gave him a kind of free role, rather than playing in the wide area, yes [that would be better].”

“He’s very very good with either foot. The first couple of times I saw him I was still trying to work out whether he was left or right-footed and that’s a very good sign. He maybe needs to strengthen up a little bit physically, but if you can put that kind of money out without any problem, then that’s the kind of signing you make.

“The problem is if you’ve not got a lot of money to spend, and you spend most of it on a player who is about potential at the moment, then there’s the danger you’re not going to strengthen the whole squad the way you should.”

Rangers have an exclusive option to buy Ianis Hagi from Genk. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Both Lewis Ferguson and Lyndon Dykes have also been linked with summer moves to Ibrox [Scottish Sun]. The former is still only 20 but has enjoyed two impressive seasons at Pittodrie, while the latter scored nine goals and registered a handful of assists in the Premiership last season.

Smith is sold on Dons midfielder Ferguson but isn’t so sure about Livingston’s number 9.

“If I had to choose between the two, I would say Lewis Ferguson would be a better signing than Dykes,” he said. “I’m not quite sure about Dykes. I know a lot of people think that Rangers could do with a big striker there – somebody they can knock the ball into and can win headers and stuff like that. But I just haven’t seen enough consistency from him in games I’ve watched, to be honest.”

“I do think Ferguson is a very very good player, he’s got a very strong Rangers background with his dad and his uncle both playing and being stars. Certainly, his uncle Barry was a top-class player. What I’ve seen of him, he’s a player of strong mentality too.

Lewis Ferguson of Aberdeen has been linked with a move to Rangers. (Photo by Scott Baxter/Getty Images)

“Although he’s young, he’s gone into that Aberdeen team and really has established himself in there now and he’s one of the first choice players without a doubt. I think he would be a player you could rely on – a bit of strength in the midfield too, a bit of power and is capable of scoring goals.

“So, if I had to choose between the two, I would say Lewis Ferguson.”