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The muddled exit of Jeremain Lens from Sunderland was bad for PR but did a job for the books

After insisting they had negotiated a better deal for the exit of Jeremain Lens than was being reported, the actual anticlimactic details of the Dutchman’s exit as posted to the Turkish stock exchange were met with moderate dismay on Wearside.

When muddled rumours circulated on Monday that Jeremain Lens was set to depart Sunderland on loan or with payment of £4m spread over a two year period, the club insisted via the pages of the Evening Chronicle that the terms of the deal were better than was being reported.

In the end, when Besiktas posted the details of the arrangement to the Turkish stock exchange yesterday, the reaction on Wearside was one of moderate dismay. That suggestion that the deal was actually better than that rumoured is open to some interpretation.

The sale of the player who arrived just two years ago in a move worth £11m with add-ons on top, will bring in just £1.3m upfront with a potential £3.7m to follow at the end of the season.

That’s a loss of £6m on a winger who proved to be one of Turkish football’s star men last season and has now signed for a club about to embark on Champions League campaign.

Factor in the recent rehabilitation of Lens on the international scene after he barely featured in the orange shirt of Holland following the 2014 World Cup, and not managing to rake in a few more pennies for the Dutchman has been seen as an opportunity missed in some quarters.

Netherlands v Luxembourg - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Lens playing for the Netherlands in June
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The public face of transfer business is all about managing expectations and reaction. And the now the full details have been presented on the Lens deal, it really doesn’t look up to much on face value.

But that wasn’t the aim here anyway - the Dutchman was moved on to shift him off the wage bill and contribute to the urgent rehabilitation of Sunderland AFC’s accounts.

From a playing perspective, Sunderland need cash now yet they’ve managed to bring in a pittance up front on one of the few assets that remained in the playing squad.

Lens had to be shown the exit, for whatever deal could be done, to ensure the amortization of that £6m loss will be posted in the accounts spread over his four year contract period. Because that will be offset by getting his significant wages off the books.

It may well even balance. If Lens was earning more than the £1.5m-a-year loss which will be posted against his transfer trading, it will look a decent enough result financially all things considered.

There is a fundamental issue though remaining at the Stadium of Light as this summer’s transfer dealings progress. Can the club keep a lid on criticism of its dealings for long enough to get the darn window shut and survive the period without much angst?

Whilst the manager valiantly attempts to rebuild his squad on precious little more than a few quid he found stuck down the sofa, criticism of the club has so far been quashed by the perception that he’s doing a bloody good job.

But that moderate positivity has so far been tempered by the expectation that a little cash will soon be released upon the sale of whatever players with value are left in the Black Cats possession.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Simon Grayson on the touchline on Friday night
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Friday’s draw with Derby proved Simon Grayson has brought in a few decent enough players who have added to the Sunderland line-up.

But all along, as the unpalatable truth of how much the new boss has to spend becomes clearer, there has been the underlying hope that the sale of Lens, Khazri and Kone will furnish him with a little extra cash to add a couple of cherries on top of what looks like it has the potential to be a top half Championship side.

Now one of them has gone and brought in just over a million quid up front, the hope that has been fading since the Pickford squillions vanished just took another knock.

There’s only two left now whom Grayson can sell to raise funds - Kone and Khazri - and time marches on with an increasing assumption that this transfer window will slam shut with the Black Cats having barely spent a penny. Will Sunderland AFC manage to get there without too much criticism? It looks probable.