According to reputable French outlet L’Equipe, St Etienne have joined Rennes in the race to sign Sunderland’s attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri ahead of the coming season.
In the report, the newspaper claims that whilst St Etienne remain confident, Rennes hope that the lure of European football next season might be enough to convince Khazri that his future lies with them, and not elsewhere.
They also report that St Etienne are keen on keeping former Newcastle United wide-man Remy Cabella, who is on loan from Marseille, and they want to pair him with Khazri next season as they launch an assault on finishing in the European places next season. They claim that whilst Khazri remains a primary target for Rennes, they also have their sights set on Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal and Guingamp’s Clément Grenier.
Should Khazri end up at St Etienne he’d link back up with his old Sunderland teammate Yann M’Vila, who signed for Les Verts on a free transfer in January.
The 27-year old playmaker had a superb stint on loan at Rennes in the last campaign and is currently at the World Cup with already eliminated Tunisia, who face Panama in their final game of this year’s tournament on Thursday evening.
But whilst Khazri is away and has been solely focused on playing for his country, his agents have been working hard in order to find him a new club as soon as possible.
Roker Report learned that his agents claimed bizarrely a few weeks back that he should be allowed to leave the club for free - something which was shot down by Sunderland AFC immediately.
Due to the fact he did so well last season, Khazri is not short of admirers. But, his Premier League wages are proving to be a stumbling block for many of the Ligue 1 clubs that are interested in him - meaning that his future may not be resolved until nearer the end of the transfer window.
During his time away from Wearside last season, Khazri scored 11 goals and managed 4 assists in 34 games, and even scored for Tunisia in their recent 5-2 defeat to Belgium - the game which saw them lose out on the chance to progress beyond the group stages of this year’s World Cup competition.
In truth, a bidding war would suit Sunderland down to the ground at this stage. In terms of his value, Khazri is perhaps Sunderland’s most attractive talent, and having a number of clubs involved in talks for the player can only seek to strengthen our chances of getting the best possible fee for his services.
Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has repeatedly warned our want-away players and agents that they will not let them leave unless their valuations are met, and has said that if they can’t find suitable offers that they’ll be made to work by the contracts they signed and play for the club in League One.