Attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri continues to receive rave reviews from multiple French media outlets due to standout performances in Ligue 1 whilst out on loan at Rennes.
The Tunisia international started out the season with Sunderland when Simon Grayson was manager, but on deadline day in the summer he left having barely featured in the Championship.
Since arriving back in France the former Bordeaux man has impressed mightily and has not only shown his quality but goal-scoring prowess, playing mainly as a false nine in a front three for Sabri Lamouchi’s Les Rouges et Noirs.
Khazri’s fine form has seen him earn praise from many quarters of the French media in recent weeks. Ex-Marseille manager Franck Passi spoke at great length at the weekend on French TV about his desire for his former club to try and sign Khazri at the end of the current season, whilst respected outlet L’Equipe singled out the man signed by Sam Allardyce for recognition just last week.
In a feature on Khazri published last Tuesday, the French outlet called Khazri - the second highest earner at Rennes - ‘a winning investment’ that is ‘worth the cost’.
They also wrote:
... Khazri has quickly adapted to Ligue 1 by asserting himself as the offensive leader at Rennes, either as playmaker or centre forward.
The 26-year-old's impact in Brittany prompted La Voix Du Nord - a French daily Newspaper - to wax lyrical over the central attacking midfielder and his "beautiful duet" with former West Ham striker Diafra Sakho.
Khazri's side haven't had a great deal to shout about in recent times, but the forward's contribution this season - including a goal versus Olympique Lyon to propel his side to a famous away victory - have provided fans of Rennes with some much-needed excitement.
And Khazri was responsible for "the other great moment in Rennes' season”, dragging his team to a 2-1 victory in the Vélodrome against Olympique Marseillais, scoring an audacious back heel on his debut for the club.
Khazri - who made 42 appearances for Sunderland before he departed on loan in the summer - is described as a "rare player" capable of bringing fans to their feet in stadiums up and down the country.
La Voix Du Nord state that although Rennes will win nothing this season, at least fans of the club have Khazri to enjoy for the remainder of the campaign.
With no purchase option upon the completion of Khazri’s deal it is entirely feasible that he could end up returning to the Stadium of Light in the summer - for a short time at least.
But, the question we should be asking ourselves is why was a player with such obvious quality and goal-scoring ability allowed to leave on loan in the first place?
If Ellis Short and Martin Bain were genuine in their ambition to propel Sunderland back into the Premier League, then surely a player so influential in a top European league could have been convinced to stay and help our fight in the Championship.
In their piece, L'equipe also reveal that Sunderland heavily subsidise Khazri's wages - which begs another infuriating question - if Khazri remains on the payroll, then why loan him out at all?