Racing Club de Lens have confirmed Will Still as their new head coach, bringing an end to a six month saga linking him with a potential move to Sunderland. 

The 31-year-old has ended months of speculation by agreeing to become the new head coach at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis despite significant interest from Sunderland in trying to lure the Belgian to Wearside. 

Still had been on Sunderland's radar dating back to December when the club parted company with former head coach Tony Mowbray midway through the Championship season but they were unable to come to an agreement over a compensation package, with Still remaining in place with Stade de Reims.

Still established himself as one of the brightest, up and coming head coaches in Europe with Reims having become the youngest head coach across Europe's top five divisions when appointed in 2022. His success in France led to interest in his services over the course of the last 12 months including Premier League side West Ham United. 


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But Still remained with Reims until last month where he mutually parted ways from the club after a drop off in form over the second half of the season with club president Jean-Pierre Caillot also highlighting a breakdown in communications. 

Still's exit led to increased speculation linking him with a move to the Stadium of Light, while the 31-year-old also held talks with Norwich City prior to their appointment of Johannes Hoff Thorup. Still remained Sunderland's leading candidate and, after a thorough period of negotiations, was understood to have agreed a deal in principle to become the club's new head coach at the end of last month.

Interest from Lens changed the complexion of Still's stance, however, as the 31-year-old was drawn to the Ligue 1 side who will compete in next season's Europa Conference League - with Franck Haise departing Lens to take charge at Nice. 

Still's camp highlighted concerns over investment and the make-up of his coaching team if he were to move to the Stadium of Light before turning down the opportunity to replace Michael Beale as talks with Lens progressed where he has now officially been unveiled having agreed a three-year deal.

The French club have said 'the constitution of the staff who will accompany him will be announced soon.'

Pierre Dréossi, general director of the RC Lens said: “We are delighted with the arrival of Will Still at the Racing Club de Lens. Will was our top priority to take up the position of coach and start the new cycle that is opening at the club.

"Will is not only a promising coach who has broken records for precociousness, he is a unifying personality obsessed with winning. A true enthusiast, conqueror and fine tactician. Will Still left his mark on the Stade de Reims, where he obtained convincing results, notably a historic series of 19 matches without defeat.

"We are happy to welcome Will, his leadership and his communicative energy to La Gaillette and Bollaert-Delelis."




Sunderland's failed pursuit of Still has led to the club's hierarchy turning their focus elsewhere in recent weeks with majority owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus declaring in a club statement last week that an appointment was 'imminent.'

Another name who won't be filling the head coach vacancy on Wearside is Dutchman Pascal Jansen. The former AZ Alkmaar coach had been in talks with the club before recent developments have distanced the 51-year-old from the role. 

Queens Park Rangers boss Marti Cifuentes is the latest name linked with the vacancy but would require Sunderland to provide a compensation package suitable enough to pry the Spaniard from Loftus Road. Liam Rosenior, another name linked, remains on the market following his surprise sacking from Hull City at the end of the season. The 39-year-old has held talks about taking over at the Stadium of Light but, as yet, there have been no further developments while Rene Maric, who had been linked heavily alongside Still over the course of recent months, is expected to remain with Bayern Munich this summer.