According to reports in France, Everton have been recent visitors to Stade Rennais to run the rule over Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri who is on loan at the French side.
With Sam Allardyce now settled into the Goodison hotseat, the links to his former Black Cats personnel have begun in earnest. Big Sam has already been credited with interest in Patrick van Aanholt and Lamine Kone, though he would be unable to sign Khazri until the summer.
Reported FIFA rules would prevent the Tunisian playing for a third club this season after he made five appearances for Sunderland at the start of the campaign before moving on loan to Rennes on deadline day.
Khazri donned a Sunderland shirt for brief spells against Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds and Barnsley in the opening weeks of the Championship campaign and also started two games under Grayson in the EFL Cup.
Since swapping Wearside for Brittany, the 26-year-old has scored five goals in 10 appearances for Stade Rennais and with no automatic purchase option in his loan deal, it’s not surprising that clubs are taking a look at him.
The attacking midfielder has been deployed as a striker in recent games to great effect, with three strikes in his last four when leading the Rennes line. After a poor start to the season, Les Rouges et Noirs have recovered to lead a charge up Ligue 1 and are now in seventh place despite losing heavily at the weekend to league leaders Paris St Germain.
Khazri has made no secret of his ambition to return to the Premier League and recently told French newspaper L’Equipe he still harbours a dream to play for one of the top six in England’s upper tier.
Big spending Everton may be as close as he’ll get for now and Sam Allardyce sure knows how to get the best out of the Tunisian international. Khazri was a huge success when he first arrived on Wearside for £9m in January 2016 and was instrumental in Sunderland’s march to survival under Big Sam that season.
A disappointing campaign followed under David Moyes as the Black Cats finally slumped out of the Premier League and in the summer Khazri stated he had little desire to play in the Championship.
With England’s opening group game at next summer’s World Cup being up against Tunisia, the attack-minded midfielder will have a great chance of putting himself in the shop window.
Russia 2018 will begin ahead of the summer window opening on July 1st but deals can be agreed in principle beforehand. Khazri is under contract at the Stadium of Light to 2019 and will most likely be sold with Sunderland showing zero chance of promotion this season. Everton may well be poised to get in early and bag themselves a bargain.