Sunderland playmaker Wahbi Khazri has cut short his summer break and will jet out to Saint-Étienne today, in order to conclude a deal worth €4m-per year and undergo his medical examination.
Provided there are no hitches, the Tunisian will sign a four-year contract with Les Verts and will become one of the highest paid players in French football.
The bidding war surrounding Khazri has been intense, particularly since Tunisia were knocked out of the World Cup, and the closest competitior to Saint-Étienne for Khazri’s signature right up until the death were his former loan side Rennes, who were really prepared to push the boat out on both wages and fees in order to sign the man who shone so brightly in their side last season.
The former Bordeaux man was the star of a disappointing World Cup campaign for Tunisia, scoring twice and assisting with a further two goals, and has become hot property after seriously impressing last season in Ligue 1 whilst on loan with Sabri Lamouchi’s side.
Sunderland fielded interest from Belgium and Chinese clubs last week and rejected three bids which totaled at around £7.5m, but the improved package on offer from Saint-Etienne of around €10m was more in line with what the club wanted to receive and he’s been allowed to leave Wearside after a two and a half year stay.
Khazri made 42 appearances in first class competitions for Sunderland, scoring just three goals. Whilst a falling out with then-manager David Moyes ultimately soured relations, the majority of supporters will most fondly remember Khazri for his role in Sunderland’s Premier League survival in 2016 when he scored an important goal at the Stadium of Light against Chelsea.