Jeremain Lens Says He Hopes Sunderland Are Relegated For His Sake
Sunderland winger Jeremain Lens, who is currently on loan at Turkish outfit Fenerbahçe, has suggested his parent club succumbing to the drop this season will make his own life easier.
And reports in Turkey, spread throughout various outlets this evening, have been revelling in the suggestion that their hero is hoping Sunderland will be relegated in order to make his switch a permanent one.
But with a widespread assumption that his sale in the current window will fund some much-needed transfer activity this month - do his comments now cast doubt over that?
Speaking on Turkish TV, the Dutchman reiterated his desire to stay with the Istanbul outfit and suggested that Sunderland dropping into the Championship will enable that to happen much more easily.
Asked again if he would like to remain with Fenerbahçe, the 29-year-old said:
It's not up to me, I would. I'm here for a great club. I am happy to play here. I want to stay here for may years.
But this line may ruffle a few feathers amongst the Wearside faithful, coming from a player who showed such minimal desire to represent the club, for whom he signed in the summer of 2015, during his spell here:
When Sunderland are down we will be able to transfer more easily here.
With the Black Cats languishing in the bottom three, Lens' comments will rankle and are ill advised at worst. But they do appear to confirm earlier suggestions that the Dutchman's deal at the Stadium of Light contains a favourable release clause should David Moyes' side be relegated.
His comments also challenge the current suggestion that Sunderland are likely to cash in the player during this transfer window to raise funds for some much needed acquisitions of their own. If Lens is banking on Moyes failing to keep his side up this season to engineer a permanent move, whatever happened to talk that a deal is imminent between the two clubs in order to raise cash for incoming reinforcements at the Stadium of Light?
The player and his representatives have upped the ante in recent weeks as they seek to engineer a favourable exit from his current contract at Sunderland. Earlier this week, the player's father was even roped in to publicly proclaim that a prolonged stay in Istanbul would be in his son's best interests, and that he would make his own representations to David Moyes if necessary. Lens-senior said:
I want Jeremain to stay in Istanbul and continue playing for Fenerbahçe. If necessary, I will personally endeavour to talk with Sunderland's manager.
If observers had assumed that the Dutch winger would be content to depart his English failure with a modicum of diplomacy and dignity, his continued outbursts colour his exit somewhat. Set against a backdrop of the player finding his way back to some form and earning a recall to the Netherlands national set-up, Jeremain Lens does not appear to be content merely to let his football do the talking.
Reports in Turkey this week have suggested that Dick Advocaat's outfit have made an offer of four million euros to make Lens' stay with him a permanent one. Sunderland are said to have rejected that bid - insisting they value the player at double that figure, and certainly nearer the eight million pounds that the veteran coach paid for the player when he signed him from Dynamo Kiev eighteen months ago.
In truth, Jeremain Lens never endeared himself to Sunderland fans or management. He was axed from the first team by a furious Sam Allardyce for refusing to take part in a post-match workout last season. The winger was also fined two weeks' wages for his display of indiscipline.
Rumours abounded that the coaching staff at the Stadium of Light had grown increasingly exasperated with the player, and his muted goal celebrations at Watford during the final game of last season hinted that the relationship between the player, his manager and the club had all but broken down.
And when he finally departed to reunite with Advocaat last summer, Lens lashed out at his employers in an interview with Fox Sports saying:
Sunderland would just love to get rid of me. I did not play, was not even on the bench. I just had a problem with the club. What? No idea.
Supporters and casual observers can well be forgiven for wondering what exactly Jeremain Lens' problem is, rather than vice-versa.