Stephane Sessegnon: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

Michael Regan

With all the in-comings at Sunderland of late it has been easy to forget that there will inevitably be some departures. With Mignolet already gone, Bardsley as good as gone and question marks over Jack Colback's future, Stephane Sessegnon also finds himself the topic of discussion but how would Sunderland fare without the popular forward?

While Sunderland and their new-look recruitment team have been seemingly hell-bent on recruiting each and every name on De Fanti's shortlist in a whirlwind of activity which is usually reserved for a "Football Manager" pre-season, talk has also turned to who will make way.

With Phil Bardsley's Sunderland future dead and buried under a pile of fifty-pound notes and his reputation in tatters, the likes of Lee Cattermole, David Vaughan, James McClean, Danny Graham and, perhaps most interestingly, Stephane Sessegnon, may also face up to life away from Wearside courtesy of Di Canio's summer shake-up.

Transfer discussions have reached, arguably, an unprecedented level of pandemonium and even panic among fans, especially at this relatively early stage of the summer transfer window. Sure the everlasting sagas that were the Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson deals had Sunderland fans glued to Twitter but this pre-season seems to be reaching new levels of desperation, so much so that Di Canio himself offered reassurance and called for calm.

The future of Stephane Sessegnon is undoubtedly the most discussed topic this week when it comes to player's that may pass the likes of Gino Peruzzi through the revolving door at the Stadium of Light, with many a differing opinion on the popular forward.

With a recent link to the Chinese Super League side, Tianjin, quashed it is unlikely that talk of Sessegnon leaving for pastures new will be dispelled quite so easily. You can bet your bottom dollar that the press will conjure up all kinds of "plausible" deals offering the mercurial star a return to France such are the incessant stories of an unsettled family, despite the man himself rubbishing such claims earlier this year.

Sunderland's reported interest, however fanciful it may well be at this stage, in Juventus' Emanuele Giaccherini, he himself a fantastic, creative, attacking midfielder/forward have only served to add fuel to this particular fire.

For many Sunderland fans the very thought of losing Sessegnon is one that they will find hard to stomach. It is no secret that Sunderland's problems of late have stemmed from a lack of creativity and guile in the final third, so news that the club may well be ready to listen to offers for the popular playmaker will no doubt upset some sections of the crowd.

On one hand this is perfectly understandable.

Some of the things that I have seen this lad do with the ball at his feet have been simply staggering and at times have been worth the price of admission alone. Indeed, in the final third of last season, Sessegnon was one of the players to benefit the most (along with Adam Johnson) following Di Canio's arrival and his upturn in form was key to Sunderland's success during that time. Certainly the Benin-wizard was instrumental in the side's back-to-back wins over Newcastle and Everton, finding the back of the net in both fixtures.

However for each one of those stunning games another two, three, possibly even four will pass by before we see such another influential performance.

For all Sessegnon's talent, of which there is an unquestionable abundance, he has frustratingly remained somewhat of an enigma. Since joining Sunderland from PSG in January of 2011 both Steve Bruce and Martin O'Neill struggled to identify a permanent slot in their respective lineups to best utilise the gifted little fella. Of course arguments could be made for the varying reasons behind that.

However the simple, unwelcome truth is that Sessegnon is purely too inconsistent to fit in with the demands Di Canio makes on his side, a belief which was hinted at in the bosses' comments following the wins over Newcastle and Everton:

"Stephane is a talent, a great player. If Stephane works as he's done in the last two games, he's a dangerous opponent but I can tell you, from the games I watched on television prior to signing my contract here, Stephane did not give his best.

"For me, your best is when you are playing with your brain and Stephane is now playing with his brain. But when I watched the Manchester United game on television Stephane only played when he had the ball or was in a position to ask for it."

Di Canio expects, if not demands, his players stick to their defensive duties, regardless of their position on the field. Each and every player has a job do to in this regard. Pressing high up the field and constantly working to close down the opposition across the field, looking to win back possession before springing a swift counter attack. With this in mind a sound defensive work ethic is not what you would instantly attribute to the enigmatic Sessegnon.

This is when Sessegnon's position in the side looks most in doubt. With the addition of Jozy Altidore to the side and Di Canio's desire to add more strikers to his squad it is apparent that Sessegnon is not in the frame for a starting position alongside Steven Fletcher. He also does not fit Di Canio's template for the centre of midfield, a position where the Italian looks committed to filling with more of a physical presence, something the diminutive Sessegnon undoubtedly does not have in his locker. This therefore also makes a position behind the forward line, where Sess would undoubtedly fit, an unlikely tactic for the Italian to deploy.

That consequently leaves only a position in the wide areas. Again, an area of the field it is hard to see Sessegnon filling. The roaming playmaker is not known for his desire to track back or for a sound defensive work ethic.

Of course Sessegnon would make a fantastic impact substitute but it is unlikely that this is a scenario that will sit well with the player himself.

The very transfer model that Sunderland are looking to employ by its design means that Sunderland fans may very well need to become accustomed to players coming and going. De Fanti's success at Udinese has been well documented and discussed since his appointment on Wearside, with Alexis Sanchez heralded as his greatest success to date, having signed the talented forward as a seventeen year old for the Blaconeri before the talented Chilean made his €26m+ move to Barcelona a number of years later.

So while it may be easy to look upon Sessegnon's position with Sunderland with rose-tinted glasses and fawn over memories of his stunning goals and graceful footwork it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture - that he may well be moved on and indeed the team itself will move on too.

Sunderland have made incredible strides already this summer simply in the names that our new scouting network have brought to the clubs attention. Of course being linked with players of the calibre of Giaccherini is all well and good and it is the execution of the transfer that is most important, it is clear that the very dynamic and targets of the club have changed. If, and of course it is still a big if at this stage, Ellis Short and the rest of his team can pull off some of the transfers that are being muted then a decision to let Sessegnon move on will be the last thought on the fans' minds.

We want to hear your opinion; should Sess stay or should he go should the right offer come in? Let us know in the below poll!

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