Former Sunderland midfielders Yann M'Vila and Wahbi Khazri faced each other at the weekend in France. The pair were quite possibly the two most talented footballers to play at the Stadium of Light in recent years.
So, below is a picture to break the hearts of Sunderland fans this morning as we continue to come to terms with the strong possibility the club will be playing in League One next season.
Quite possibly the two most naturally gifted midfielders to have played for the Black Cats in recent years faced each other in Ligue 1 at the weekend as Wahbi Khazri's Stade Rennais faced Yann M'Vila's Saint-Étienne.
The game ended 1-1 and was notable as an illustration of just how far Sunderland have fallen since the pair were playing in red-and-white; but also as an indicator of the club's dire transfer policy and inability to make the most of talent.
image: Sud Ouest: twitter
Yann M'Vila signed for Saint-Étienne in January after being released by Rubin Kazan. The Russian side could no longer afford to pay his wages following a continued financial crisis.
Much has been made in France about the prodigal son's return following five years playing his football in Russia, interspersed with loan spells at Inter in Italy and Sunderland in England. M'Vila departed Rennes in 2013 shortly after he was banned from international football for 18 months following an unauthorised night out whilst on U21 duty.
M'Vila played 37 Premier League games during his season on loan at Sunderland in 2015-16 and has been recalling his experience at the Stadium of Light with fondness as he told the French media:
"I discovered other championships and it made me mentally, especially in the Premier League, where I lived an incredible year. Only my visit to Inter was a failure. I was captain in Russia and I played every game in Sunderland."
M'Vila's form whilst with the Black Cats was one of the main reasons the Allardyce-led side managed to stay in the top tier that year and few will need reminding of the protracted saga which followed as supporters willed the club to sign the Frenchman on a permanent basis.
In the end, Sunderland balked at paying Rubin Kazan's asking price for the player who would be a free agent the following January. There was some talk of a pre-contract arrangement being in place, but as the Black Cats struggled under David Moyes the following season, M'Vila would later let it be known he no longer had any interest in returning to Wearside.
Meanwhile, Sunderland-owned Wahbi Khazri is having a great season at Rennes with nine goals in 18 league appearances. After a slow start to the season, the Brittany-based club who took the midfielder on loan until the end of the season are up to sixth in Ligue 1.
Once Allardyce had departed the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats were simply unable to make the most of the Tunisian playmaker who struggled to get a game under Moyes before returning to France at the start of this season.
Quite frankly, had Sunderland managed to keep hold of Yann M'Vila and make the most of Wahbi Khazri, there's every chance we would still be playing Premier League football right now instead of staring down the barrel of League One.