With January only just getting underway, Sunderland boss Chris Coleman may have already dropped a hint that record-signing Didier Ndong is to be offloaded in the upcoming transfer window.
The Gabon international is being linked with a move to Premier League Watford this morning as the Black Cats look to raise funds to bring in reinforcements to bolster a fight against the drop into League One.
In the wake of another dismal defeat, this time against relegation rivals Barnsley, the Sunderland manager bemoaned his dwindling options in central midfield. But notably there was no mention of Ndong:
Darron [Gibson] thinks he has popped his groin, which doesn’t sound good. We will have to wait and see. He will get it scanned. If it is what we think then the perspective is that Lee Cattermole won’t be back for two or three weeks. We will have to get Paddy McNair ready for Boro.
Now despite replacing Gibson yesterday, Paddy McNair isn’t fit, so what about Ndong? He was last seen in a couple of brief outings against Fulham and Birmingham last month but he hasn’t started a game since the last time Sunderland travelled to the Riverside in early November.
Coleman provided an update on Boxing Day to suggest the Sunderland midfielder had received a knock to his ankle against Brum and before that he was out with a knee problem. No word has been received since on his whereabouts which will set tongues wagging Ndong is on the brink of an exit from the Stadium of Light.
Certainly various outlets this morning have begun proposing the 23-year-old is a target for Watford. A fee of €10m seems to be the proposed price, which would be something of a result for Sunderland who paid a reported £14m for him in the summer of 2016.
Ndong played 31 games in the Premier League and after an initial underwhelming start to life in red-and-white he proved to be one of Sunderland’s better players under David Moyes, albeit in a squad littered with poor performers.
Never quite capable of stamping his authority on a game, Ndong’s athleticism is his predominant asset though his vision and ability to pick out a pass continue to let him down. Underwhelming this season in the Championship, the former Lorient man had been expected to step up in the second-tier.
A departure which would bring some much needed cash into the Stadium of Light coffers and enable Coleman to re-jig his squad is perhaps the best outcome for all parties.