Steed Malbranque has left Sunderland to return to France with Saint Etienne, the Ligue 1 club have confirmed.
A statement on the club's official website read: "It's official. Steed Malbranque is a St Etienne player. The midfielder is committed to ASSE for two seasons.''
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce had earlier indicated he was willing to let Malbranque, 31, leave the Stadium of Light, after reports in France surfaced on Wednesday afternoon that he had already undergone a medical at St Etienne.
Bruce confirmed that Malbranque, who began his career at St Etienne's fierce rivals Lyon, was in advanced talks with an unnamed club.
"Of course, Steed has done remarkably well for the club over the last two or three years, but it's maybe time that he moves on and we wish him well,'' Bruce told The Sunderland Echo. "I think it's in advanced talks so maybe there'll be something to report there soon.
Just a few hours later, St Etienne confirmed that Malbranque had ended his ten-year stay in English football, which saw him appear for Tottenham and Fulham before joining the Wearsiders in 2008. Bruce revealed Marcos Angeleri and George McCartney could also follow the Frenchman through the exit door in the coming days as he looks to balance the books after bringing in a host of new names.
"I would envisage there'll be two or three leaving the club in the next few days,'' Bruce added. "It looks like Angeleri might be going back to Argentina and there's a possibility that George McCartney might be going out too.''