Finally, after 72 days of waiting, Papy Djilobodji has put an end to his self-imposed exile from the club and has turned up at Sunderland’s Academy of Light this morning.
The club received notification on Sunday from the player’s representatives that Djilobodji would report for training on Monday, something which never materialised.
Some supporters in attendance at yesterday evening’s game between Sunderland and Stoke U21s claimed that Djilobodji was in attendance, watching on from one of the corporate boxes at the back of the South West corner, but that has not yet been verified.
The 29-year old failed to turn up for the first day of pre-season back in June and hasn’t been seen on Wearside at all over the summer, but having failed to get a deal over the line at a new club during the transfer window he’s eventually turned up in an attempt to, presumably, earn himself an honest *cough* wage.
During his period of exile the club have withheld the player’s salary payments due to the 29-year-old’s non-appearance but, now he is returning to training, the club are taking legal advice and plan to sue Djilobodji for breach of contract as he has directly reduced his value to the club.
Sunderland paid Chelsea £8m for his services under then manager David Moyes and clearly have no chance of getting a return on that investment.
He attracted interest from the likes of Trabzonspor and Hannover 96 during the transfer window but both moves fell through, with the demands of both the player and his representitives judged to be too high for the buying clubs.
Although he will be allowed to return to training as he’s still under contract to the club, Djilobodji will not be allowed to train with the first-team and, while the current owners are in charge, he will never play in the red and white stripes of Sunderland again.
While the club explore legal action against the player, we understand that the club are looking to withhold his salary until all legal avenues are exhausted.
The Senegal international still has two years left on his deal, which runs until the end of the 2019/20 season.