After 3 years of hard work and many more millions invested in a football academy and a football club promoted to the top flight last summer, Gheorghe Hagi is ready to collect his first cheque and it could well be a player that has quite a few things in common with the man once nicknamed Maradona of the Carpathians. He’s a precocious left footed attacking midfielder who doesn’t feel the weight of the number 10 shirt nor the pressure of first division football at a young age, in the team with the youngest average age in the league, and has already netted 6 goals in 16 appearances, at the age of 18.
Tested by Ajax Amsterdam, who already has its expert eyes on the likes of Bogdan Tiru and Cristian Gavra – other two talents from Hagi’s Academy – and scouted also by Galatasaray, who could really sell the story of the King’s heir in Turkey, Iancu is now facing the biggest decision of his young career. In need of cash to continue the development of the Academy, as well as supporting the growing costs of a first division club, Hagi has decided to listen to any offers this winter and Steaua Bucharest was the quickest to table a sum close to what’s expected in exchange of a player that doesn’t pop up very often in this part of the world.
He started just like me, at a young age and in the sound of goals. He’s skilful and has the ability to make quick decisions. By doing so, Iancu looks quick in everything he does, although he’s not the fastest player around.
Gheorghe Hagi on Gabriel Iancu
“Steaua must now discuss personal terms with the player”, admits Hagi, who refuses to say that the race between interested clubs has now ended, but as far as I know, has demanded some guarantees that the youngster will be offered the chance to play for the senior team, so he can continue his impressive development. Hopefully, Steaua will keep its’ word, not only for Iancu’s sake, but also for the club’s image, more famous recently for wasting talent, rather than properly nurturing it…
It’s an excellent moment for the Turkish and Romanian media, with daily news on what goes on at the Istanbul club. Every media channel has inside information, reliable sources and knows not just what went on, but especially everything that it’s going to happen.
Hagi has been sacked in the papers a dozen times so far (and counting) and is held responsible for Galatasaray’s terrible season. I’m not saying that he isn’t. I’m not thinking that he should stay either! And that’s because I care for him and I think that, with more time and experience, he could turn into a good coach, while staying in the current madness that surrounds and torments Cim-Bom will do him more harm than go. Will undermine his authority at the next club and could even force him to take another step back and think again if he should pass on his outstanding knowledge and passion for the game or not.
Hagi’s mistakes, in my opinion: has abandoned his principle of not taking over a club after the start of the season; has exposed himself by signing in a very short period three players from Romania; has showed the usual guts in promoting young players, even when he badly needed to deliver results; has forced very good players to take up unconfortable roles (Neill, Stancu) and has rotated others too much, failing to let the team gel.
What everyone who sincerely cares about Galatasaray should ask himself is (and I’m leaving out the very loud press, as well as the board members who are in a continuous struggle for power): will Galatasaray’s problems go away, if Hagi is replaced?
I think not. The buys made by the club are absurd, in most cases. There’s a lack of balance within the team that speaks of a lack of strategy in the transfer market. There’s a lack of discipline in the squad that won’t be solved unless the coach has the full backing of the board. My feeling is – I don’t have all the data, obviously – that some “superstars” are protected by the board members who insisted for their purchase and the situation resembles so much to what happened in recent years with one of Romania’s big clubs, Dinamo.
Hagi was, and the guys that will follow him will be, caught in the middle. Unlike others, he was also the shield that now takes all the bullets. He’ll return home hurt by the fans and the club he loved so much, with the label of a poor coach, on top of the one that read “LEGEND”. And he won’t feel any joy in the near future, when the bullets will find the right targets, while it would be too late for the shooters to realize who was of one of the collateral victims in Galatasaray’s endless struggle for power. Which didn’t took place in the league, not even among Istanbul’s giants, but only in the soul and the mind of a club that has felt the sweet taste of success, but completely forgot the recipe…