Picamoles to rejoin Montpellier from Northampton for 'significant fee'

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Northampton Saints have reluctantly allowed Louis Picamoles to rejoin Montpellier, with the Premiership club set to receive what they describe as a "significant transfer fee" for the France international.

Picamoles, one of the star performers in this year's Six Nations, had been heavily linked with a return to his first professional club, yet the Saints insisted earlier this month that a deal had not been finalised.

However, Northampton confirmed on Wednesday that the experienced back-row forward would be heading back to France from the 2017-18 season.

A statement from the Saints read: "Louis Picamoles will be leaving the club to rejoin Montpellier, his first professional club, as the French Federation now wants its internationals to be playing in the Top 14.

"?The 31-year-old has received a proposal from Montpellier which will underpin the future financial stability for his family.

?"The club has therefore reluctantly agreed to the transfer and accepted a significant transfer fee for his services. This fee will be reinvested into the playing squad to ensure Northampton Saints continues to strive for success on the pitch. To achieve this, the Saints is looking to further strengthen the squad with new signings in addition to the world-class talent already confirmed for 2017/18.

"The Saints' management would like to thank Louis for his contribution to this season and wish him all the best for the future."

Picamoles, who spent seven years with Toulouse before joining Northampton on a three-year deal in 2016, added: "I am proud to have played for Northampton Saints and I have enjoyed my time with the club.

"I am grateful for all the support and friendship I have received? from the club, the coaches, my team mates and supporters."