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ROKER ROUNDUP: Panathinaikos drop interest in Sunderland’s Didier Ndong after ‘negative reports’

Reports claim that Panathinaikos made a serious offer to Sunderland for Didier Ndong but, after investigation from their president, he withdrew their interest after receiving ‘negative reports’.

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No international call-ups as yet

As we mentioned last week, Sunderland’s home fixture with Fleetwood Town was at risk of postponement should three or more players be called up by their international sides for the forthcoming international window.

So far, none of those call ups have happened.

Dylan McGeouch and Jon McLaughlin have missed out for Scotland despite being in the squad for their last set of fixtures back in June.

Max Stryjek was not named amongst the foreign based contingent called up for Poland’s under-21 team, the injured Aiden McGeady wasn’t named in the Ireland squad, likewise Tom Flanagan for Northern Ireland.

That leaves only three players that would all need to be called up for the Fleetwood game to be called off. As Adam Matthews may still get called up by Wales when Ryan Giggs names his squad on Wednesday, Lynden Gooch is a possibility for the US national team and Bryan Oviedo is expected to be named in a new look Costa Rican squad.

Switzerland v Costa Rica: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

No Greek move for Ndong

Greek outfit Panathinaikos had been interested in Didier Ndong, going as far as making a ‘serious offer’ for the player according to Gabonese site iSport.

According to the report, the Greek side’s president Dimitris Giannakopoulos investigated the player and decided against the move after receiving negative reports about the 24-year-old.

Reports in Portugal suggest that Benfica are still interested in the AWOL midfielder, and are considering making a loan offer with a view to a permanent move as Ndong is reportedly - and understandably - welcoming a move to the Portuguese club.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Khazri discusses transfer decision

Wahbi Khazri left Sunderland earlier in the transfer window to join Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne and the Tunisian has been discussing his choice to join Les Verts and his reasoning for leaving Sunderland and snubbing Rennes, where he had a loan spell last season.

Khazri says he wanted to leave Sunderland due to our relegation to League One and he felt Saint-Etienne wanted him more than Rennes:

I did not want to stay in Sunderland, relegated to the English third division. Rennes and Saint-Etienne were the two really interested clubs. I had a special relationship with Sabri Lamouchi [Rennes coach]. He is more than a coach for me, he has brought me a lot. We appreciate a lot, we call regularly and I had no problem to play under his orders. On the other side, there was Jean-Louis Gasset, an extraordinary coach who did everything for me to come and who really weighed in the balance. I went to Saint-Etienne because I felt that the whole club really wanted me.

The 27-year-old says his decision was purely a sporting decision and a suggestion from Rennes that his choice was purely down to money hits a nerve with the attacking midfielder:

Saint-Etienne did everything to bring me here. I felt that I was first choice, more so than in Rennes. It is difficult to explain. There is a person in Rennes who said that I made a financial choice...Rennes, which pissed me off, is that I fought to help the club to qualify for Europe (the club finished 5th). We had managed to do something superb. It’s a shame because I think I could still bring them, on the field and off. After, if Rennes did not do everything to keep me, it is because they think they could have better than me.

In Saint-Etienne, I had the feeling of having people who valued me at my true value. I know I’m not a phenomenon, but I think I have qualities. I was coming out of a great adventure in Rennes and a beautiful World Cup with Tunisia. I thought I deserved a minimum of respect. And this respect, I felt it most in Saint-Etienne.

When asked if the person at Rennes was their owner Oliver Letang, Khazri declined to answer and revealed he had better offers from elsewhere but joined Saint-Etienne as it would be more enjoyable for him:

I have grown old to blame anyone. I found it awkward more than anything because it does not correspond to reality. Especially since I had better financial opportunities than Saint-Etienne. If I did not seize them, it’s because I like football, I’m ambitious and I like to have fun. I took it last season. I thank Rennes for that and I think I gave them back. But today, it is in Saint-Étienne that I enjoy.

Away from his recent transfer, Khazri has been in charitable mood of late as he has donated €10,000 to his cash strapped former club SC Bastia.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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