Championship - Gradel completes move to St Etienne

Wed, 31 Aug 13:40:00 2011

St Etienne have completed the signing of Ivory Coast international Max Gradel from Leeds with the 23-year-old forward signing a four-year deal.

2011-12 Championship Leeds United Max Gradel - 0

Gradel had handed in a transfer request at the Championship club with the hope of pushing through a return to French football where he started his career as a youngster at Championnet Sport.

The Ivorian then joined Leicester City's academy before progressing through the ranks and moving to Leeds on loan in 2009 and making the deal permanent a year later.

Gradel was named both Fans Player Of The Year and The Players Player Of the Year at Leeds last season and St Etienne's coach Christophe Galtier was pleased with the capture.

"(He is) Very versatile, able to play on all fronts of the attack and will bring its qualities of impact and finishing," he told the club's official website.

Romanian winger Banel Nicolita is also expected to complete his move to Les Verts on Wednesday.

In all Gradel scored 25 goals in 77 league appearances for Leeds, and said before his departure that he was sad to leave Elland Road.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have asked to leave Leeds United," the fan favourite told the club's official website.

"It was a difficult decision for me as Leeds has been a wonderful place to live and to play football.

"However, I have made the decision based on my career development, and the opportunity to play at the highest level in France is too big an opportunity to turn down.

"I want to thank all the Leeds United fans who loyally follow the team up and down the country as you have made my time at the club very special. I also want to thank Simon Grayson, my team-mates, and everyone at the club for all your help and support, and giving me the opportunity to play for this great club.

"I am sure that it will not be long before Leeds United return to the Premier League and I wish you every success in the future."


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