Fashion Sakala: Why Rangers and fans will be torn if rumoured Saudi interest materialises
The veracity in a claim an “unnamed Saudi Arabian club” are preparing a £4million bid for the Zambian international remains unknown. Inevitably, though, it has sparked debate among the Rangers faithful over whether it would be proper or perilous to part with the 26-year-old at this juncture. Supporters are split right down the middle on the correct course of action should such an inviting offer be received. Fitting, really, since analysis of the forward is framed by such duality.
Sakala proved Rangers’ most potent frontline performer across Michael Beale’s six months at the Rangers helm. He ended the term as his go-to central striker, when he had become a go-and-take-a-place-on-the-bench peripheral figure for much of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s stint. All but one of the 12 goals netted by the pace-to-burn front man – whose motion can seem too rapid for his mind – were netted in the Beale era. For a total that meant only Antonio Colak, with a 19-goal tally, scored more times for Rangers last season.
Colak appears firmly in the departure lounge at Ibrox as Parma are understood to be circling with a £2m-plus bid. The Croatian looks surplus to requirements owing to the Rangers manager radically redrawing his entire final third options. Even with Cyriel Dressers, Sam Lammers and Brighton loanee Abdullah Sima on board, recruitment in this department does not seem final as a second bid is expected to be lodged for Feyenoord striker Danilo. Yet, if these arrivals can only squeeze opportunities for Sakala, mercurial talent stands apart as a known, unknown option for the club. He is well-versed in the requirements of Scottish football – even if he doesn’t always deliver on them. Which wasn’t true of the closing stretch of last season, with four goals across the final four games. Kemar Roofe could also be placed in this bracket, but his inability to prove his fitness means selling Sakala would leave Rangers reliant on a whole raft of players unfamiliar with the terrain.
Colak has been rendered dispensable because he singularly failed the Celtic test, the 29-year-old making no impression in the derbies ultimately likely to be again decisive to the destination of the domestic honours – as unarguably proved the case as Ibrox club’s ancient adversaries helped themselves to their latest treble. And here is where assessing the worth of retaining Sakala becomes such a head scratcher and elicits such mixed feelings.
His fleet-footed abilities resulted in him being the Rangers attacker that caused Celtic more problems than any other under Beale, reflected in Sakala contributing two goals and two assists across only three derby starts. Yet, he is cited as the performer who cost his club two cups when facing up to their rivals courtesy of his horrible, and horribly similar, misses: in the 2-1 League Cup final defeat and the 1-0 Scottish Cup semi-final loss, composure utterly lacking when presented with glorious openings that followed the ball fizzing to the forward in space close in at the back post only for him to find the side netting on each occasion. Such moments can leave you in a funk attempting to determine if Sakala’s good sufficiently outweighs his anything-but to merit retention.
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