RANGERS’ Europa League opponents Royal Antwerp have received a major boost after ‘club icon’ Ritchie De Laet penned a new contract. 

The former Manchester United and Leicester City defender publicly upped the ante during fraught negotiations, declaring earlier this week that the club would need to table a more generous offer. 

And the 32-year-old’s bold strategy paid off, with the Belgian outfit confirming on Wednesday afternoon that De Laet has agreed an extension until the summer of 2023. 

An official statement confirmed: “Club icons are there to be cherished. 

“Royal Antwerp FC is therefore pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement in principle with Ritchie De Laet.

“De Laet, who made his debut in the first team in 2006, will defend our red and white colours until the end of June 2023.”

De Laet has made 70 appearances over three spells with the Great Old since emerging through their youth system, and has signalled his intention to end his career with his boyhood club. 

He also boasts two caps for Belgium and is certain to line up against the Gers when the sides meet in the Europa League last-32 next month. 

Meanwhile, new Antwerp manager Franky Vercauteren oversaw his first training session since replacing Ivan Leko. 

The veteran former Anderlecht manager was given the role on January 5 but was forced to isolate due to Covid-19 precautions. 

However, he was back on the training ground on Wednesday and will be in the dugout for their league game at Gent this weekend.