Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has played down comparisons between new signing Wahbi Khazri and the likes of Youri Djorkaeff and Jay-Jay Okocha, who he brought to England during his time as Bolton Wanderers manager.
The Black Cats spent £9m on bringing Khazri to the Stadium of Light in January, and he made an encouraging first impression as a half-time sub during his side’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night.
The 24-year-old’s arrival has been likened in some quarters to Djorkaeff and Okocha joining Bolton, and Allardyce is hopeful that Khazri can have a similar impact in the final third.
“You are going world-class now, man. I’m not sure he’s world-class – if he is, it will be the bargain buy of the century,” Allardyce told reporters. “One of our problems is we get to the final third fine – we arrived in the final third much more than Manchester City, we produced more in the penalty area than Manchester City did against us – but our quality is the ultimate [problem] in that area.
“It’s the hardest place to produce that quality, so if he’s got that quality in the final third which helps us provide and score more goals, then he’ll be a massive bonus to us – as in the past Youri Djorkaeff particularly, in a similar position, and Jay-Jay Okocha provided in my Bolton time.”
Allardyce also revealed that he plans to mainly use Khazri in a wide role, but is willing to play him through the middle too.