Sometimes when things get really bad there’s an innate human defence mechanism which kicks in to make us feel better by comparing our misfortunes with those of others.
And there really isn’t much to gloat about on Wearside right now and we really shouldn’t raise a smirk, but Jeremain Lens latest stint out on loan from Sunderland isn’t going too well.
Dropped from Dick Advocaat’s final Netherlands squad, accused of refusing to take to the pitch for Beşiktaş, being named the ‘worst’ in the Turkish Super Lig and with a recent bout of flu just to rub it in, poor Jeremain can’t catch a break out there in Istanbul right now.
Lens has made 7 appearances in the league since departing Sunderland in the summer but he’s only managed to get a full 90 minutes under his belt in one game. The rest of his outings have all been cut short or been spent on the bench.
And figures from the Super Lig currently have the Dutchman rated as worst in the division for managing successful passes, with just 56.6% of balls played reaching his intended target.
Lens had returned to the international fold late last year after something of a hiatus following the World Cup in 2014, but with his former mentor Dick Advocaat retiring (again) from the Holland national job after this round of fixtures, the winger and his former Sunderland teammate Patrick van Aanholt could only make a place in the Netherlands warm-up squad this week. Both were sent home before the competitive action got underway with last night’s game against Scotland.
With a new coach and new ideas required for the Dutch following their failure to qualify for Russia 2018, it’s quite probable that Lens international career is over as he approaches his 30th birthday later this month.
And Lens found himself in the midst of a storm a little over a week ago when a pundit and assorted fans accused him of refusing to make an appearance from the bench when Beşiktaş played Aliaspor at the end of October.
Both Lens and his teammate Gary Medel appeared to decline to take to the pitch in the last minutes of the game. In the end, former Middlesbrough striker Álvaro Negredo came on and snatched a late winner.
Lens was forced to take to social media following the game to deny he had refused to play. The controversy became so heated that some Turkish outlets were claiming Beşiktaş were considering refusing to take up the option to make the player’s transfer a permanent one from Sunderland.
I heard the rumors and I just wanna let everyone know that I will always play as I love what I'm doing and will always do my best.— Jeremain Lens (@jeremainlens) October 29, 2017
Presumably the deal made with the Black Cats is reasonably watertight as some folks in Turkey were bemoaning the ‘promise’ made to Sunderland in the summer, though it’s never been entirely clear how many appearances Lens must make to trigger a permanent deal.
In the wake of the fallout, pundit Mehmet Demirkol was scathing of Lens, questioning what the point of Beşiktaş signing him to some fanfare had been. The TV commentator also claimed that coach Senol Gunes had not wanted to sign the Dutchman from Sunderland in the summer.
Lens was an unused substitute again at the weekend and after returning from the Netherlands warm-up camp has missed Beşiktaş training this week with a bout of the flu.
The winger is under contract at Sunderland to 2019 and reports in Turkey continue to suggest the fee of €4.8m which will be paid to Sunderland to make the transfer permanent was specifically designed to aid the Istanbul club in meeting Financial Fair Play restrictions.