Sunderland will consider alternative midfield options after it was confirmed that Yann M’Vila will not be rejoining the club in January.
The 26-year-old had been set to re-join Sunderland on a permanent three-and-a-half-year contract when his Rubin Kazan deal expires next month.
But M’Vila’s representatives have told the club he no longer wishes to return to Wearside.
Chief executive Martin Bain held talks with manager David Moyes and it was agreed not to enforce the contract, with Bain adding: “Any player that we bring to Sunderland Football Club must be wholly committed.”
Sunderland officials were in negotiations with the Russian side all summer over the permanent transfer of M’Vila, who starred on loan last season at the Stadium of Light.
But any hopes of landing him were thwarted by cash-rich Kazan’s refusal to go any lower than their £8.5million asking price for a player who had just a few months left on his deal.
As a result, a pre-contract agreement was then agreed between M’Vila and the Black Cats for the midfielder to join in January.
But M’Vila – who is understood to have been offered a new deal to stay with Rubin – has had a change of heart over returning to Sunderland.
Bain said: “I was contacted this week by Yann M’Vila’s representatives, who advised that the player no longer wishes to join Sunderland.
“There was a three-and-a-half-year agreement in place, however after discussions with the manager we have decided not to enforce the contract.
“Any player that we bring to Sunderland Football Club must be wholly committed.
“Yann M’Vila will therefore not be joining us in January and we wish him well for the future.”
M’Vila had said he was desperate to return to Wearside in the summer and declared himself “heartbroken” after any hopes of a deadline-day transfer failed to materialise.
But the French midfielder, who is on a big contract in Russia, has clearly had a change of heart since and no longer sees his future on Wearside.
The 26-year-old was initially excluded from the Kazan squad for the Russian Premier League season.
But he has since won his place back and has featured nine times for Rubin since October, with M’Vila playing the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 defeat to Spartak Moscow on Monday.
Popular M’Vila enjoyed a season-long loan at Sunderland last season after being signed by former manager Dick Advocaat.
He made 40 appearances, scoring one goal at Aston Villa, and played a key role in the successful battle against the drop.
M’Vila won’t be returning, though, after the club moved to draw a line under the drawn-out saga ahead of the January transfer window.
Sunderland’s options in central midfield have been hit recently after Lee Cattermole was ruled out for four months, Lynden Gooch for up to three and Paddy McNair for the season.
Jan Kirchhoff, who struck up an instant partnership with M’Vila last season, returned to the Sunderland squad for the 2-1 weekend win over Leicester City after a hamstring injury.