Steven Gerrard will reportedly block Rangers winger Ianis Hagi from representing Romania at the Olympics this summer, which could well force the 22-year-old out of Ibrox considering the interest being shown in him.
It was revealed earlier this month that the Gers were planning to deny Hagi the opportunity to represent his country in Tokyo this summer, as it will clash with Champions League qualifying fixtures.
Former Leeds United defender Danny Mills has recently slammed this decision when speaking to Football Insider, saying: “[Lionel] Messi played in it, [Sergio] Aguero played in it.
“If you sign a talented under-23 player who’s possibly going to be in the Olympics, if the Olympics goes ahead, then you’ve got to be prepared for that.
“You can’t sign a player that plays for one of the African Cup of Nations teams and then go ‘I don’t want him to be away in January.’
“Surely you have to do your due diligence and know that’s going to be a possibility. If your player’s good, he’s going to get called up. I get that they’re trying to persuade their players and say ‘Do you really need to go?’
“But it’s the opportunity to play in an Olympics. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Why would you not want to go and represent your country?”
Hagi is already a fully-fledged Romania international, with 16 caps to his name, and is eligible for the squad as he is an under-23 player, so it was no surprise that Mirel Radoi was keen to call him up for Tokyo.
However, Rangers have refused permission, which might not sit well with the former Genk winger, who has been linked with a move away ahead of the summer transfer window, with the likes of Lazio and Sevilla reportedly interested.
Given that the “outstanding” Hagi won the Young Player of the Season award at Rangers this season after contributing seven goals and 10 assists in all competitions, it is no surprise that Gerrard is desperate to have him available.
However, as Mills suggests, Rangers should have planned in advance for this situation, and a refusal to let Hagi play in the Olympics could well prove a factor in whether or not he is still at Ibrox at the end of the summer transfer window.