Three loan players were in action this weekend as the season draws to a close.
Papy Djilobodji played the full game at the heart of Dijon’s back three but couldn’t prevent Lille from clinching the three points they needed to avoided relegation to Ligue 2.
Fabio Borini came on as a late substitute for Milan as they were 1-0 up at Atalanta, but his only real action was to get himself booked and then witness the home side equalise late on through an Andrea Masiello header that really should have been stopped by Gianluigi Donnarumma. Regardless, that point was enough to see both sides qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Academy graduate Josh Robson also came on as a late substitute and like Borini could only bear witness to the opposition scoring shortly after his arrival - but this time it was the winner as Tromsdalen ran out a 3-2 victory.
Wahbi Khazri’s Rennes surprisingly won 2-0 at French champions Paris Saint Germain - who appointed Thomas Tuchel as their new manager yesterday - but the Tunisian missed out through injury.
Khazri runner-up in Ligue 1 award - receives World Cup call up
Wahbi Khazri has had such a good season on loan for Rennes this season that he was named the second best African player in Ligue 1.
Khazri was runner-up in the Marc-Vivien Foe award, which was won by Angers’ Cameroon international Karl Toko Ekambi, with Lyon’s former Chelsea striker Bertrand Traore third. Ekambi is the first Cameroonian winner of the award which is named after his compatriot and joins the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Andre Ayew who’ve also clinched that accolade.
That good season should see Sunderland receive a generous fee for the 27-year-old which will hopefully go to our new manager - whoever that may be - as we look to rebuild ahead of next season.
Meanwhile, Khazri was also named in a 29-man preliminary squad which Tunisia have announced ahead of a training camp. Should (as expected) Khazri make the final 23-man squad, it will mark his World Cup debut.
Oviedo also receives World Cup call up
The World Cup in Russia is just a month away and the Costa Rican Football Federation have announced their squad, which includes current Sunderland left-back Bryan Oviedo.
Oviedo, who usually plays as a more attacking left-sided player for his country, will be appearing at the World Cup for the first time after he missed out when they got to the quarter-finals in 2014 due to him suffering a horrendous leg break in an FA Cup tie at Stevenage.
Whether Oviedo will still be a Sunderland player by the time the World Cup gets underway is unknown, but best of luck to him while he’s our player.
A comprehensive look at the failed Nugent transfer
You may remember that in the summer of 2007, shortly after we had won the Championship, Roy Keane had attempted to sign former England striker David Nugent. Preston had accepted bids of £6m from Sunderland and Portsmouth for the player and there was a bit of a transfer saga while we waited to see where he would end up.
As it turned out, Nugent ended up signing for Portsmouth and he got a bit of stick from our fans at the time but according to the player himself, it was Sunderland who turned him down:
I wanted some time to speak to my family about it. I don’t think there was anything wrong in that — most players would have done the same. Roy Keane took it the wrong way. He withdrew his bid without saying anything and that was that.
It was disappointing for me because I had taken the time to talk with them but I don’t have any regrets about what happened because I have joined Portsmouth. Harry Redknapp made me feel wanted. He didn’t try to rush me into anything. We spoke, he showed me around and told me about his plans for the club and then told me to go away and think about it.
Once you speak with Harry, it’s very difficult to say no. I suppose that comes through years of experience in dealing with footballers, something that Roy Keane has yet to gain as a manager.
I didn’t snub Sunderland — it was the other way round.
Keane had made it clear that he wanted a striker in for the start of pre-season - he ended up signing Michael Chopra from Cardiff for a fee of around £5m shortly afterwards - but said in his autobiography that the reason the club pulled out was due to Nugent wanting to speak to Redknapp after the Pompey manager’s wedding anniversary:
I got a call from David’s agent: ‘He’s undecided. Harry’s in for him at Portsmouth.’ This was Harry Redknapp. So I said there was no pressure but it was only a couple of weeks before the start of pre-season, and there’d come a point when we’d have to make our minds up.
I had to bring it to a head another few weeks later. This was David Nugent, by the way; he hadn’t become Messi. But he was a good player and I wanted him. So I rang his agent. ‘Well’, he said ‘Harry’s in for him’. And he said ‘Just to put you in the picture. Harry’s away for this weekend, on his wedding anniversary. He’s been married for forty or fifty years and he wants to speak to David when he gets back.’
I said ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ve waited three or four weeks, and now you’re asking me to wait because of Harry Redknapp’s wedding anniversary? We’re pulling out of the deal.
So it was Redknapp who got what he wanted and signed the player for £6m, but he has been speaking about that deal late last week with portsmouth.co.uk and according to ‘Arry, he never wanted to sign Nugent in the first place - a player he didn’t even particularly rate - it was all the doing of then-chairman Sacha Gaydamak:
Gaydamak really wanted him because he was English – he really wanted an English striker. So I went and met Nugent, I had a meeting with him. I wasn’t convinced but he decided he wanted to come. He’s had a good career and done very well, a good player, but for me I wasn’t sure.
Once I make up my mind about people maybe I don’t change, I just didn’t fancy him that much when he arrived. When we won at Ipswich, Nugent came off the bench to score, while Jamo [David James] made some great saves but I wasn’t crazy on Nugent, he would not have been on the top of my list.
Sacha didn’t really get me to sign players, it was just that one. Ian Broomfield [chief scout] fancied him as well and had been speaking to him. They said “Go and meet him and have a chat with him”, so I did. Sunderland also wanted him – and then he came back and said he wanted to join Portsmouth.
Nugent had a bit of a nightmare during his time at Portsmouth, with the striker only scoring six goals in three Premier League seasons before the club were relegated to the Championship.
Clearly, the whole transfer saga was a mess and none of the parties involved knew the reasonings behind the motives of the others. I suppose that, considering Chopra wasn’t necessarily a flop, we ended up getting the better end of the deal.