By Nick Ware

19th Feb, 2021 | 10:25am

Rangers handed big boost in Sakala hunt with 23y/o eyeing Ibrox move and CL football - report

Rangers are still at the front of the queue to land Fashion Sakala ahead of his summer free agency but face heavy competition from old adversaries Lille.

That is according to the Daily Record despite the striker’s recent comments regarding a new deal at current club KV Oostende where he has impressed as part of a two-pronged attack to fire his side to fourth in the league.

The Zambia international’s contract expires in June and therefore he is an attractive proposition to many clubs with his upcoming free agency meaning clubs would not have to shell out a transfer fee and thus only have to agree terms over his wages.

The Daily Record report that Ligue 1 table-toppers Lille have now thrown their hat in the ring and are ‘ready to ramp things up’ to secure Sakala’s services with the striker keen on playing in the Champions League next season.

They have scouted the 23-year-old extensively over recent weeks but the striker is aware of Gers interest and would still be keen on a move to Ibrox, though the Govan club would need to ensure he meets the eligibility criteria under the new work permit provisions.

He has hit 13 goals in 24 Jupiler Pro League appearances this season including five in his last five as he looks to impress potential suitors ahead of the summer.

CL qualification could hold all the keys

It could all come down to the offer of Champions League football, a competition that Steven Gerrard’s side all but guaranteed to be in next season.

The Light Blues are currently 15 points clear of closest challengers Celtic at the Premiership summit and nearing title number 55 which would bring the added benefit of a return to Europe’s elite level.

Winners of the Premiership go into the final round of qualifying for the group stages and are therefore two games away from a lucrative six-game fixture list.

It seems a foregone conclusion that the Gers will at least get the opportunity to do this but things look less secure for Lille in Ligue 1.

In France the top three teams get the chance to test themselves in the Champions League with sides placing in the first two places getting automatic qualification to the group stages.

Lille are currently first and six points ahead of fourth-place but they drew at home to mid-table Brest on Sunday and then crumbled against Ajax in the Europa League on Thursday, surrendering a lead as they conceded twice in rapid fashion to the Dutch giants to lose 2-1.

It may only be a minor blip but with Monaco coming up fast on the horizon they could face a scrap to keep their position in the top three with perennial French champions PSG on their tails and Lyon also in good form.

Add that to all the uncertainty surrounding the French side’s finances and one gets the feeling that Rangers might just be favourites to land Sakala in the summer.

This would feel like revenge of sorts after Lille’s public pursuit of Alfredo Morelos last summer.

In other Rangers news, see our player ratings following the vital victory over Royal Antwerp in the Europa League.