BRIGHTON will table an improved offer of around £5m for Sunderland midfielder Paddy McNair this week, but Wahbi Khazri is set to reject the opportunity to make a permanent move to Rennes.

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has already turned down an initial Brighton bid of £3.5m for McNair, but the Seagulls remain determined to sign the 23-year-old, who is currently on international duty with Northern Ireland.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton has identified McNair as one of his leading midfield targets this summer, and has urged his board not to give up on their pursuit of the former Manchester United trainee.

An improved bid is imminent, with Brighton ready to offer £5m in an attempt to persuade Donald to sell. Some of that money will be dependent on a series of clauses being met, but Brighton are expected to offer more than £3.5m up front.

It remains to be seen whether that is sufficient to secure a deal, with Donald having forcefully insisted that he will not be allowing any of his players to leave for a cut-price fee despite Sunderland’s relegation to League One.

The Oxford-based owner has already turned down what was regarded as a derisory offer from Italian club Torino for Didier Ndong, and is clearly determined to drive a hard bargain as he looks to overhaul the squad he inherited from Ellis Short in conjunction with Sunderland’s new manager, Jack Ross.

Ross accepts that a number of senior players will have to leave this summer, and is yet to hold a discussion with McNair about his plans.

The midfielder suffered a series of injury problems last season, but scored three goals in his final five matches as Sunderland crashed out of the Championship. He will be understandably reluctant to play in League One when there is the chance of a return to the top-flight with Brighton.

Speaking last week, he said: “If I can get back to the Premier League, that would be great, but I just want to concentrate on these Northern Ireland games and look at that afterwards.”

Torino remain interested in Ndong, although Cardiff City have also been in contact with the Sunderland hierarchy to discuss a possible offer. Neil Warnock regards the Gabon international as an attractive option as he looks to strengthen his squad ahead of Cardiff’s return to the Premier League.

Khazri is another player who is all-but-certain to leave Sunderland this summer, although the Tunisian is set to turn down the option of a move to Rennes in the hope that bigger clubs will come in for his services later this summer.

Khazri spent last season on loan at Rennes, and while the Ligue 1 club are yet to agree a fee for a permanent deal with Sunderland, they have discussed a possible wage settlement with the winger. Rennes have the option of a £6m deal with the Black Cats, but are looking to secure a cheaper arrangement.

“The ball is in the hands of Wahbi,” said Rennes president Olivier Letang. “He has a proposal from the club which, for Rennes, is a very good offer.

“We compete with clubs that have a larger financial footprint, but we cannot play with the institution and we need to know quickly if the player wants to be part of this project.”

Khazri has not ruled out the possibility of signing for Rennes, but with Marseille, Lyon and Nice also having been credited with an interest in securing his services, he is keen to wait until after the World Cup before deciding on his future. Having been named in Tunisia’s 23-man squad for Russia, he will be hoping a series of strong World Cup performances earn him a move to one of Ligue 1’s leading clubs.

With John O’Shea close to agreeing a deal with Reading, Sunderland are set to lose all four of the players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the month. Billy Jones, Marc Wilson and Kazenga LuaLua are set to follow O’Shea through the exit door.

As well as dealing with exits, Ross is also beginning to firm up his own transfer targets, with Hibernian duo John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch at the forefront of his thoughts.

McGeouch, a 25-year-old midfielder, is due to become a free agent this summer, and while Rangers, Aberdeen and QPR have also been linked with a possible move, Ross will be hoping his Scottish contacts enable him to land the former Celtic trainee.

Sunderland’s new manager is also interested in ex-Gateshead midfielder Marcus Maddison, who is set to leave Peterborough United after the League One club failed to win promotion last season.