Former Rangers loanee playing key role for overachieving Ligue 1 club 18 months after Ibrox exit
Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Former Rangers loanee playing key role for overachieving Ligue 1 club 18 months after Ibrox exit

18 months after leaving Ibrox, former Rangers loanee Lassana Coulibaly is playing a key role for thriving Ligue 1 side Angers.

Coulibaly joined the Gers on a season-long loan from Angers at the start of the 2018/19 campaign and impressed many supporters with his early performances.

Lassana Coulibaly in action for Rangers against Hamilton. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

He brought power and dynamism to the midfield and scored an important goal in a Europa League qualifying win over Maribor in August 2018.

Just days after that contribution, Steven Gerrard stated that he would like to sign Coulibaly permanently [Scottish Sun]. Yet, although the player went on to make 30 appearances for the Light Blues, his form dropped off considerably and no bid was made before he returned to his parent club at the end of the season.

There was still no room for him in the starting XI at Angers, so he was sent out on loan again for the 2019/20 campaign, this time to Cercle Brugge, where he had a tough time.

The 24-year-old missed a big chunk of games in the middle of the season and Cercle only held onto their Belgian top-flight status by the skin of their teeth after a flurry of late-season wins.

Coulibaly endured a difficult season at Cercle Brugge. (Photo by KURT DESPLENTER/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Things are looking very different for Coulibaly now, though, as he’s finally managed to establish himself as a key part of an Angers side flying high in Ligue 1.

Les Noirs et Blancs are currently seventh in the table, ahead of bigger clubs like Bordeaux, Montpellier and Nice, and the former Ibrox loanee has played in 17 of their 20 league fixtures.

He featured predominantly as a substitute during the opening months of the campaign but has started six of the last seven matches, playing in either a central or a defensive midfield role.

On Saturday, he got the opportunity to test himself against a team of superstars, as Angers took on PSG at home.

Former Rangers loanee Coulibaly compete for possession with PSG star Leandro Paredes in a Ligue 1 clash. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

Coulibaly played the full 90 minutes and helped to keep world-class attacking players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria quiet, only for the visitors’ left-back, Layun Kurzawa, to score a 70th-minute winner.

The 1-0 defeat will have brought disappointment, but after his career appeared to be stalling following a mixed stint at Ibrox, the former Gers loanee has done well to carve out a big role for himself in a top-five European league.

Coulibaly isn’t the only former Rangers player currently thriving elsewhere, with another midfielder playing a big part in a promising promotion push.