Sunderland managerial target makes decision as Leeds United star 'to make' shock return after Elland Road exit

Will Still has made a decision over his managerial futureWill Still has made a decision over his managerial future
Will Still has made a decision over his managerial future | BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images
Sunderland’s search for a manager continues to drag on as a forgotten Leeds star returns to the fold

Former Sunderland managerial target Will Still has put an end to rumours linking him with a move to the Stadium of Light by becoming the new manager of RC Lens in Ligue 1.

Still had been a contender for the vacancy on Wearside last December following the departure of Tony Mowbray and then emerged again as the overwhelming favourite after leaving his role at Stade de Reims shortly before the conclusion of the Ligue 1 campaign.

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Sunderland Echo understands that the 31-year-old held talks with the Black Cats over becoming Michael Beale’s successor, with an agreement reportedly being close. However, the picture changed for Still when RC Lens began their search for a new boss as Frank Heisse left to take on the vacancy at fellow French side OGC Nice.

Lens, who competed in the Champions League group stage last season, quickly established Still as their main target and swiftly moved to secure his signature ahead of the Wearside club. RC Lens finished last season in seventh place and the lure of competing in the Europa Conference League next season was too good for Still to turn down.

"We are delighted with the arrival of Will Still," said Lens sporting director Pierre Dreossi. "He left his mark on Reims and was our top priority to take up the post. He is a promising coach, a fine tactician and is obsessed with winning."

Former Hull City boss Liam Rosenior is the new favourite for the vacancy at the Stadium of Light. He is followed closely by QPR boss Marti Cifuentes and Rene Maric of Bayern Munich U19s.

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In other news, Leeds United have agreed to welcome forgotten man Brenden Aaronson back to the squad after a one-season loan spell at German Bundesliga strugglers Union Berlin.

The 23-year-old signed for Leeds in the summer of 2022 for a blockbuster fee in the region of £25m. The 40-time USA international scored once and added three assists in his debut season. During this period he was criticised for failing to adapt to the physcial demands of the Premier League and fell down the pecking order after Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce’s late season arrivals as managers.

After Leeds’ relegation, the American was one of the first to exercise a loan release clause in his contract after a disastrous first season. He was later joined by the likes of Jack Harrison (Everton), Rasmus Kristensen (Roma) and Marc Roca (Real Betis) in securing temporary switches.

Aaronson was involved in another relegation battle during his time in the German capital but was praised for his performances as he scored two goals and registered two assists in 30 league appearances, helping the team to survive in 15th place by virtue of goal difference.

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Having spent a season away from Elland Road, Aaronson engaged in talks with Leeds and manager Daniel Farke that club sources say went positively, leading to a decision to bring him back into the fold. The Yorkshire Evening Post understands Aaronson had the option to move to various other clubs including Union Berlin, but his preference was to return to Leeds to be part of the promotion effort as he looks to rebuild his relationship with supporters.

The move will divide opinion with Leeds fans given the youngster's hastiness to leave in the summer, but as it stands Aaronson looks to have been given a chance for redemption in West Yorkshire as the Whites look to bounce back at the second time of asking following their play-off final defeat.

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