He’s finally gone. Jeremain Lens - after weeks of speculation - is now officially a Besiktas player, and he leaves to join the Turkish champions as they bid for yet another assault on the league title and the Champions League.
It’s certainly a move that’s tinged with sadness - though Jeremain isn’t the first highly talented player to come to Sunderland only to ultimately fail, he really could and should have contributed more.
That said, I don’t blame him for pushing for a move away from here whatsoever. Why would he want to stay? At the end of the day he’s been presented with an opportunity to earn more money at a higher level, playing for a club that will be competing for silverware, in a City that offers a bit more sunlight and perhaps a more continental style of living. Good luck to the bloke.
I have no inside knowledge on how Lens has behaved since arriving back at the club for pre-season training but I somehow don’t think he’s the type of person that would buy in to the challenge of getting us out of the Championship.
The best move for both parties was to let him leave - now we just have to make full use of any money that Grayson receives in order to strengthen our attack further.
Ross McCormack’s loan from Aston Villa looks a certainty now, whilst the likes of Martyn Waghorn and Jordan Hugill continue to be linked with a move back to their home region - and whilst none of the aforementioned players are anywhere near the standard of Lens, they’d surely see a move here as a chance to better themselves and prove their abilities all over again. That is crucial as we strive to build something long-term here.
The side that played on Friday against Derby County may not have been littered with star names, but each and every one of those players grafted their nuts off - it was the type of team performance we only seem to see these days whenever we play against Newcastle.
That’s what I expect to see each and every week from now on. Players giving 110% for this club each and every time they are afforded the privilege of pulling on that shirt and performing in front of our fans.
I’m just glad that we can now, finally, move on. I briefly flirted with the idea of retaining him ahead of our Championship campaign - his promising pre-season form offered us a brief glimpse in to what he could possibly offer us - but in reality Lens is just one of a number of players that we have that need to be moved on if we are to progress under the vision that Simon Grayson has for this football club.