According to Alan Nixon of The Sun, Sunderland are now actively seeking to sell midfielder Didier Ndong.
The national newspaper’s football correspondent suggested on twitter that the Black Cats are touting the 23-year-old around, presumably in a frantic bid to raise cash before the transfer window closes in a little over 48 hours time.
The Gabonese international only arrived at the Stadium of Light last summer for a then-record fee, reported to be worth £13.6m from French side Lorient.
Ndong has played in all five of the Black Cats league games since the Championship season started and made thirty-one appearances in the Premier League last term.
The 23-year-old has been subject to recent transfer rumours linking him to West Ham and a return to Ligue One with Olympique Lyonnais.
The Hammers though reportedly have little interest in the defensive midfielder whilst Lyon are thought to be pursuing other names but have considered making a move for Ndong if they are unable to land their top targets.
A fee of 20-million-euros was suggested as that required to lure the player from the Stadium of Light with Black Cats boss Simon Grayson last week warning would-be suitors they will have to stump up Sunderland’s valuation before bids will be entertained.
Either way, Sunderland appear to remain vulnerable to losing their better players before the transfer window shuts with Grayson seemingly stuck in limbo - still needing to sell before he can bring anyone in before Thursday’s 11pm deadline.
The Black Cats summer squad rebuild remains half-complete as the hours tick by with a striker still the number one priority in a team which also requires reinforcements in defence and midfield.
Ndong may yet represent one of Sunderland’s only options at raising some cash before the transfer window shuts with interest in other want-away players such as Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone seemingly faded.
The sale of Ndong would be greeted with alarm amongst Sunderland supporters who are growing increasingly tetchy at the club’s apparent inability to spend even a moderate sum on bolstering a side which has now lost its last two Championship games.
There have long been suggestions that the Black Cats negotiated favourable repayment terms with Lorient last August for that ‘record’ £13.6m fee.
Some hold that the actual figure has been much less and that the total was topped up by various add-ons dependent on performance which may yet not materialise. A sale at the figures being suggested will represent some profit to show for the player’s 12 months on Wearside.
Simon Grayson will surely be scouring the market for a replacement to fill the void in his defensive midfield area should Ndong depart, with the likes of Brentford’s Ryan Woods previously mooted as a target.
Certainly recent Sunderland showings have hinted that a holding midfield combination of Didier Ndong and Lee Cattermole has failed to ignite with the Black Cats overrun in the middle of the park - a feature which may have convinced Grayson that selling one or the other and bringing in a replacement may benefit his line-up.
Regardless, selling Ndong in particular looks starkly short-sighted as the Gabonese midfielder - who will turn out for his country during the international break against teammate Lamine Kone’s Ivory Coast - easily rates as one of the best midfielders in the Championship.
Still raw on occasion, Ndong has the potential to be a top half Premier League midfielder. But such is Sunderland’s frantic need for funds right now, cashing in on one of the few prized assets left in the squad looks to be increasingly inevitable.