Jeremain Lens will not play a part in Sunderland’s friendly against Scunthorpe with the winger left out of Simon Grayson’s squad, sparking rumours the 29-year-old is finally about to exit the Stadium of Light.
The Dutchman has been busy updating his social media presence this afternoon too, with a photo of himself looking decidedly chuffed.
Lens has been carrying a knock since the weekend which may explain his omission but most are anticipating he will leave Sunderland and tonight's absence only adds fuel to rumours about his future.
Word spread around parts of Wearside this morning that Sunderland are near to agreeing the transfer of Lens to Turkish champions Beşiktaş despite the president of the Super Lig side appearing to play down the link when asked yesterday.
Fikret Orman responded to a question about his club’s continued interest in the winger by saying “Lens is a good player, not a bad player, but it is not our priority”. That was before a friendly fixture in Spain against Real Valladolid.
Beşiktaş are making strides to consolidate themselves at the summit of Turkish football and defend their league title and have been linked with the likes of former Middlesbrough loanee Alvaro Negredo and have signed Portuguese defender Pepe from Real Madrid.
Newly dubbed the ‘Chelsea of Turkey’, Beşiktaş are seeking to dominate football in the Super Lig for years to come.
Meanwhile, Sunderland supporters remain in an odd position of widely expecting Lens will be sold whilst hoping he might stay.
The club are unlikely to be able to pay the Dutchman the salary he would wish and the prospect of Championship football is realistically not going to keep him at the Stadium of Light for long, especially with an outside chance of the Netherlands making the World Cup next year.
But the player has reminded Sunderland fans of exactly what he can be capable of with his showings this summer since that season-long loan spell with Fenerbahçe ended last month.
On his return to training with Sunderland, most anticipated there would be some animosity between player, club and fans after Lens’ attitude during his initial first two seasons on Wearside and comments he had made to the Turkish media about the Black Cats being relegated.
Instead Lens has clearly kept himself fit and has impressed in pre-season, likely in no small part to aid himself in the shop window and remain at the forefront of admirer’s minds, but should the player leave Wearside in this transfer window, he will so with something of his reputation restored.
Above all else though, the legacy of Jeremain Lens on Wearside will be a permanent reminder of the flawed, bloated, directionless transfer policy at Sunderland as the Premier League years limped along.
A half-decade of strife and battling to stay in the Premier League emptied the club’s coffers, the pockets of Ellis Short and cleared millions in chalked up loans in a desperate futile bid to remain in the ‘big league’. All of it was for nothing as managers blews chunks of cash on players they were unable to get the best out of.
One of them was Jeremain Lens. A talent who should have shone on the biggest stage in football but who has largely been a waste of a few million quid.
Farewell Jeremain Lens? Quite possibly.