Another one bites the dust. Jeremain Lens has become the latest player to depart the Stadium of Light, joining Turkish giants Fenerbahçe on a season long loan.
Now, this is a bit of a tricky one to assess. But it probably shouldn't be.
First things first, Lens has been a huge disappointment in his solitary year at the club. Signed by Dick Advocaat for an undisclosed fee, many expected the Dutchman to provide a dynamic attacking threat, either from wide areas or behind the front-man. Maybe expectations of Lens were too lofty - he had only played league football in the Netherlands and Ukraine after all - but as our second biggest signing of the window, and a trusted soldier of Advocaat at both AZ and PSV, we had to have faith in his arrival and supposed playing ability.
Goals against Aston Villa and West Ham suggested that we may have had a decent player on our hands. But he was stupidly sent off in the same game against the Hammers as The Lads threw away a two goal lead, ending Advocaat's return to Wearside, and in many ways his own Sunderland career.
When Big Sam replaced Advocaat, he was quick to question Lens' attitude and commitment to the club. It was reported that Lens had failed to complete a post-match exercise following a match against Watford - in which he did not feature - and was fined two weeks' wages.
In that situation, there are two ways to react. You can take the criticism from your manager and prove him wrong. Or you can sulk and moan and prove him right. And Lens chose the latter option, telling the media that he was not happy with his treatment at the club and that he was considering a move away in the January transfer window, which says it all about his attitude.
As a result, Lens was largely frozen out, although he did impress against Watford in the final game of the season. And although he has played just 67 minutes of league football this season under David Moyes, he has been involved in goals in both of his appearances, suggesting that he still has something to offer the club.
But while it's obvious that Lens possesses a decent amount of ability with the football, for a team like Sunderland, who are expected to struggle year upon year and therefore need to take a more workmanlike approach, simply having ability does not cut the mustard.You need to work hard and apply yourself with full commitment, and you can't rely on Lens to give you that. Fabio Borini, for example, probably lacks the technical ability that Lens possesses, but you can depend on him to work hard for the team and give his all.
In a sense, that probably sums up the problem with Sunderland in recent years - too much graft and not enough quality. And maybe that makes me look hypocritical, but we simply cannot afford to carry half-arsed players in our predicament.
And that's why I'm not sad to see the back of Lens. Or at least why I shouldn't be, should I say, in ordinary circumstances.
But we're not working in ordinary circumstances. With just a day and a half left in the transfer window, the squad still needs a fair bit of work. With Fabio Borini rumoured to be injured for three months, we are left with Wahbi Khazri, Steven Pienaar, Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore and Adnan Januzaj as potential attacking midfield or wing options. There's not a lot to choose from.
So while Lens has been a flop at Sunderland, despite intermittent signs of talent and quality, and does not appear to be the type of player you would want in a relegation battle, his departure leaves us even lighter. If we can replace him with a quality attacking addition or two in the next 36 hours, then the deal will make sense. If we fail to adequately replace him though, then we have to question why we have made a threadbare squad even weaker, regardless of how disappointing Lens has been. Surely having Lens in the squad to bring on with 25 minutes to go is better than nothing?