Will Still has been appointed coach of Lens until 2027, replacing Franck Haise who has left for Nice, the Ligue 1 club announced on Monday. 

Still, 31, born in Belgium to English parents, was sacked as coach at Reims just before the end of last season and had been linked in the past with a move to England, with Championship club Sunderland a reported possible destination.

Instead he joins a Lens side that were runner-ups to PSG in the 2022-2023 season before finishing seventh last term. 

"Will was our top priority to take over as coach and start the new cycle at the club," said Pierre Dreossi, who has taken over as managing director from Arnaud Pouille in an extensive reorganisation of the club. 

"Will is not only a promising coach, he is also a unifying personality obsessed with winning." 

Still took over at Reims, initially on an interim basis, in October 2022, and led them to an 11th-place finish. 

He was the youngest head coach in Europe's top five leagues when he was appointed. 

"A true enthusiast, a conqueror and a fine tactician, Will Still has left his mark on Reims, where he has achieved convincing results, including an historic 19-game unbeaten run," said Dreossi. 

"We're delighted to welcome Will, his leadership and his infectious energy."

With Haise already departed for Nice there will be no official handover but it appears Still already has the stamp of approval from the older coach. 

“I really like the way he looks,” said Haise, 53, at the beginning of February ahead of a match between Lens and Reims.

"He's a genuine person, and in this business, it's not always easy to be. You're always under so much scrutiny that sometimes you're forced to change, to protect yourself. 

"Over and above his personality, I think that what he does with his team gives off a real sense of risk-taking and movement. 

"He's just over 30, which is even more exceptional. I'll be able to watch him when I'm done, because I think he's got a great career ahead of him.”