Former Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt told his teammates he would be willing to feign injury when at the club but the Dutchman has said he is 'sorry' for the Black Cats plight after relegation was confirmed on Saturday.
The allegation that the 26-year-old was prepared to effectively go on strike if David Moyes blocked his £14m move to Sam Allardyce's Crystal Palace, comes in a SportsMail article published late last night:
[van Aanholt] was allowed to force through a move to Crystal Palace, a relegation rival, no less. We understand he told team-mates he would feign injury if he had to stay.
But the left-back who played over 80 games for Sunderland, has expressed sympathy for his former club as they face up to life in the Championship, telling Crystal Palace's official website, www.eagles.cpfc.co.uk, that he is grateful for the opportunity the Black Cats gave him to establish his English top-flight career:
I'm very sorry for Sunderland - I was there for two-and-a-half years and they helped me to the Premier League, and I am very sad for them.
But I am at Palace now and I have moved on - we still need another win to get to 41 points and be safe and I am very positive we will do that.
Patrick van Aanholt left Sunderland under something of a cloud and was quick to criticise his ex-teammates and manager David Moyes as soon as he was a safe distance away, saying:
We have got a better team [at Palace], no disrespect to the Sunderland players.
And the Dutchman would blame his increasingly poor performances in a red-and-white shirt on Moyes, taking a melodramatic swipe to justify his previous criticism:
I did not enjoy David Moyes' training sessions. Eventually I lost my love for the game and went into the dressing room feeling annoyed every day.
Certainly van Aanholt's subsequent comments appeared to confirm his willingness to refuse to play for the club which signed him from Chelsea in 2014 if he wasn't permitted a switch back to London:
When Sunderland turned down an offer for me from Crystal Palace I went to see Moyes in his office three of four times.
I was angry. I told him 'accept Palace's bid and just let me leave - it's the best thing for all concerned'.
Many felt van Aanholt was deflecting from his own issues and showings on the pitch and David Moyes would later criticise his former defender with a hint at there being something deeper at play:
I was disappointed with Patrick's comments. I manage twenty/thirty players every day of the week. I don't expect every player to enjoy every minute of the training.
But it was our decision to let Pat go and I wouldn't really want to give the real reasons why Patrick left the club, and I think if you wanted to find out you could ask Patrick himself.
As Sunderland as a collective lick their wounds following a painful season culminating in a dismal relegation, there may be more fall out to come from players keen to shift blame for their part in the debacle.
Certainly the hint about van Aanholt being prepared to fake an injury is not the only suggestion that senior players have been open to shirking their responsibility and being prepared to refuse to take their place on the pitch.
In truth, some of them - even when they have pulled on a Sunderland shirt - would have been better off not bothering.