No Call For Djilobodji - He's Here For January
Senegal have been roughly the last nation to name their squad for the Africa Cup of Nations which starts two weeks today. And despite a faint hope and a whiff of speculation, there is no place for Sunderland defender, Papy Djilobodji.
There had been some suggestion earlier this week that Senegal coach, Aliou Cisse, might stage a u-turn and recall the 27-year-old to his group for the African tournament, because of withdrawals - notably centre-back Lamine Sane of Werder Bremen.
The news is a relief for Sunderland boss, David Moyes, with Djilobodji's central-defensive partner Lamine Kone set to head off to join up with the Ivory Coast squad in a matter of days. It remains unclear as to when Kone will be unavailable from, however, with his nation assembling for a pre-tournament training camp scheduled for the 2nd January. There have been hints within the African media this morning that English-based Ivorians will head to Abu-Dhabi a day later than the rest of their countrymen which means Kone should be available to face Liverpool on Monday.
Midfielder and record-signing, Didier Ndong, will jet off to take part in the Cup of Nations for hosts Gabon, as will Tunisian Wahbi Khazri with both probably in the squad for the visit of Jurgen Klopp.
Defoe Shrugs Off West Ham Rumours Amidst Growing Hammers Desperation
Jermain Defoe has been speaking to Sky Sports this morning about the growing chorus of rumours emanating from the London media linking him with a move to West Ham in the January transfer window.
The 34-year-old Sunderland hitman dismissed the speculation as routine for strikers who are consistently finding the back of the net:
There's going to be speculation let's be honest, the people that score goals are wanted.
Over the years, anyone that has scored goals has been talked about in terms of moving to different goals.
I think it's just part and parcel. The players don't really want to get involved - you just get your head down and you play football
And Defoe - who is clearly still loving his football in the final years of his career on Wearside said he is happy at Sunderland:
It's a good feeling to be wanted but when you're playing well and scoring goals then you must be enjoying being at the place you're at.
The West Ham links have grown increasingly frantic in the last couple of days since Sunderland boss, David Moyes, stated Defoe would not be for sale "at any price".
There have been suggestions that the former-England international negotiated a favourable clause in his most recent contract extension which was signed in the summer. The rumour concludes that this will allow him to leave the Stadium of Light for free should Sunderland be relegated. Naturally, the London media have assumed this must mean Defoe will bide his time and allow fate to whisk him to the Olympic Stadium at the end of the campaign if West Ham are unable to prize him from David Moyes' sticky mitts in the upcoming mid-season window.
And this morning, headline originating from the Daily Mirror suggest that the Hammers are "convinced" Jermain Defoe wants to rejoin the club that he left under something of a cloud 12 years ago. This bold claim appears to stem from some substance-less statement West Ham boss, Slaven Bilic, made in his press conference this week in which he hailed the Sunderland striker as a "very good player" and recounted tales of opponents who have been impressed by Defoe's continued sharpness despite him being in his mid-30s.
This one has weeks to run yet. West Ham fans and the sympathetic elements of the capital-based media are renowned for a certain sense of entitlement - stemming from their World Cup win for England half-a-century ago of course, and a grateful nation bestowing the Olympic Stadium on them as a reward. But Defoe shrugging off the links might quieten the matter for a little while at least.