Ivorian winger Max Gradel leaves Leeds for St Etienne

Max Gradel
Gradel has made five appearances for Leeds this season, scoring one goal

Max Gradel has completed his move from Leeds to St Etienne for an undisclosed fee, the French club have confirmed.

The 23-year-old winger has signed a four-year deal with the Ligue 1 side after handing in a transfer request on Tuesday.

The Ivorian, who was out of contract at the end of the season, was Leeds's player of the year last campaign.

He has been linked with a move all summer, with both West Ham and Fulham reportedly keen to sign him.

However, a desire to return to his native France, where he started his career as a youngster at Championnet Sport, meant Gradel favoured a move to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have asked to leave Leeds United," Gradel told the Leeds official websiteexternal-link. "It was a difficult decision for me as Leeds has been a wonderful place to live and to play football.

"However, I 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."

St Etienne coach Christophe Galtier told the French club's official websiteexternal-link: "[Gradel is] a versatile player who can play anywhere up front and who will bring his attacking skills and finishing touch."

Gradel, who has two international caps for the Ivory Coast, joined Leeds from Leicester in January 2010 after a successful loan spell.

Last season he scored 18 goals in 41 games for the West Yorkshire side as they narrowly missed out on a play-off spot.

This season he has played in five games, scoring once, but was also sent off against Middlesbrough earlier this month.

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