Wahbi Khazri: forget Saint-Etienne – you could have played at Grimsby tonight

How the French turned ‘Sunderland, the play’ into ‘Saint-Etienne, the film’

As Sunderland rceord a first pre-season win, 1-0 at Grimsby, we also say farewell – or another one since he’s long gone any way, if previously on loan – to Wahbi Khazri.


The new ownership is so far unable to shrug off football’s demented obsession with “undisclosed fees”. But everyone “understands” – ie they were told – AS Saint-Etienne have paid in the region of ¬£6m, with potential add-on payments of half as much again. And to think, he could have been playing for Jack Ross’s squad in the friendly against Grimbsy Town on Tuesday evening.

Khazri won’t know it, but his move maintains a tenuous Sunderland link. A hit play that took Paris theatreland by storm, called simply Sunderland, was turned into a film. But to give it more chance of success in French cinemas, the producers switched location and set the film in Saint-Etienne, with Olympique Lyonnais taking Newcastle United’s place as arch rivals. It was called, when translated, Who’s Strongest and you can read about it here

Sunderland the play, a surprise hit on the Paris stage

Monsieur Salut wishes him well. The way he was squeezed out of a wretched, losing side in David Moyes’s Premier League relegation season was beyond belief. He did well on loan at Rennes, did well for Tunisia in the World Cup and – I suspect – will do well for les St√©phanois.

Meanwhile at Grimbsy, or at Cleethorpes but against Grimsby. the Lads relied on a first-half Lynden Gooch goal to win by a single goal against League Two opponents. So that’s one win, one draw and one defeat in the pre-season campaign so far.

This was the starting line-up and substitutions:

Sunderland: Stryjek (Ruiter 66), Flanagan, Taylor, Love, Hume (Matthews 66), Honeyman, Robson (Mumba 59), McGeouch (Kimpioka 74), Gooch, McManaman (Maja 71), Maguire.

Subs not used: Hackett, Molyneux, Storey, Kokolo.

Adieu, Khazri
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