After his public declaration last week that he wishes to leave Sunderland, followed by a partial backtrack to declare he is still fond of the club, Wahbi Khazri appears to have engineered a few options to plot an exit route from the Stadium of Light.
But are any of them really in the Black Cats’ best interests? With Sunderland presenting as being utterly desperate for every drop of cash they can wring from what’s left of Europe’s transfer windows, is the club about to have its pants pulled down over the departure of another faded ‘star’?
One thing is sure, there doesn’t seem to be much of a market out there for a Tunisian with fitness issues and question marks over his attitude coupled with a marked lack of consistency this past year or so.
According to L’Equippe, Ligue One outfit Rennes are in advanced talks to take Khazri on loan for the season. Not much there to get excited about from a Sunderland perspective then, especially considering the French side are reportedly poised to only pay a portion of the midfielder’s wages.
To put that supposed loan offer into perspective, Rennes are presently in the process of banking a little windfall having received a percentage pay out from the huge 100 million euro-plus transfer of Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona. The Spain international was a Rennes youth product before departing the French side in 2016.
The club based in Brittany have been something of a mid-table hogger in recent years but are owned by one of France’s richest families, led by a head who has developed himself a reputation for operating the football club in a canny fashion with a renowned reluctance to stretch themselves in the player market.
Bagging a bargain from a cash-strapped Sunderland side looking to free up a little funds makes perfect sense. Especially landing one of French football’s stars of recent years before he upped sticks to try his luck across the channel.
Reports further suggest a pair of Turkish teams are also weighing up an approach for Khazri, most likely Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor who finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Super Lig last season.
Antalyaspor signed Samir Nasri from Manchester City just last week and considering the 30-year-old was earning a reported £125k a week at the Etihad, they may have a little room left in their wage budget to accommodate a Wahbi Khazri.
Trabzonspor have endured issues with Financial Fair Play restrictions in the last few years but their recent pursuits of the likes of Moussa Sissoko suggest they too have some financial clout going spare.
All of which begs the question, why are Sunderland entertaining what will likely be unfavourable terms for a player who cost them £9m a little under 18 months ago?
Well, sadly the market for an inconsistent Tunisian playmaker who has only displayed flashes of being able to grapple with English football is somewhat limited.
No domestic side are likely to have shown any interest in Wahbi Khazri so the market for his exit is limited to French, Turkish or perhaps Spanish sides. Few of which can match the wages paid by a club in England - even one implementing pay cuts for relegated footballers.
Either way, these exit stories surfacing about Khazri’s impending departure from Sunderland make grim reading in truth.
The only positive slant that can be put on it right now is that shifting the 26-year-old’s pay off the wage bill is presently being pushed with some urgency to enable Simon Grayson to finally be able to afford to bring in someone.
Villa striker Ross McCormack is a player the Black Cats have supposedly been pursuing for weeks without being prepared to pay much of his salary. Would freeing up most of Khazri’s pay enable Sunderland to finally bring him in?