Former Brighton & Hove Albion attacking midfielder Kazenga LuaLua will not be offered a new contract by Sunderland in the summer, according to our club sources.
It’s hardly groundbreaking news, particularly given the fact that he’s barely featured since arriving, but many fans - myself included - had high hopes for him upon signing and had assumed that he’d at least play a small part in boosting our faltering hopes of survival.
Unfortunately, things haven’t materialised and he’s set to leave the club once his deal is up at the end of the season.
LuaLua was allowed to leave the newly-promoted Premier League club on a free transfer in January in order to link up with Chris Coleman on Wearside, but in almost three months he’s yet to register a single appearance in Sunderland’s starting eleven, instead finding himself restricted to occasional appearances from the substitute’s bench.
The apparent reason for his non-inclusion has been his persistent issues with injuries, in particular with his hamstrings, and it’s believed that the Sunderland manager has significant worries that in handing LuaLua a start he’ll not be able to perform over the course of an entire game.
Despite being only 27-year old, LuaLua has struggled for a number of years with his fitness and it’s been a big factor in why he’s barely played at any of the clubs he’s played for in recent years.
In an interview with Roker Report in January, Alan Wares - a Brighton supporter and the presenter of ‘The Albion Roar’ radio show - expressed his concerns over the winger’s condition, stating that whilst he was capable of brilliance “he lost some pace after he broke his ankle about five years ago”.
This season - including his spell on loan at Queens Park Rangers in the early part of the campaign - LuaLua has started just two games and has completed only 356 minutes of action on the pitch.
The terms of his deal with the club are as yet unknown, but taking his previous issues with fitness and injury into account it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that the club might have agreed upon a pay scheme based upon incentives that depend on him being fit and ready to play.
Upon his signing Chris Coleman suggested that we’d see LuaLua play a fairly prominent role down the middle as opposed to in his favoured wide-position, but due to issues that have plagued him since the day he arrived we’ve just not seen him feature anywhere near as much as many had hoped.
With just four games remaining time is seriously running out for the player to impress the club enough in order to earn a new deal, and whilst he appears fit having featured on a handful of occasions recently from the bench it looks unlikely that he’ll even be given the chance to prove both his worth and his fitness ahead of the summer.
Sadly, for all parties involved, it’s been an incredibly disappointing and frustrating stint for the player at Sunderland, and it was perhaps fairly naive for us to have even hoped that he’d have been fit and capable enough to perform to the standard required in order to help drag the club away from the relegation zone.