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Fan Letters: Was promising young striker sold by Sunderland due to success of Maja & Kimpioka?

Did Sunderland approve the sale of a promising young academy striker because of the first team success of Josh Maja and, more notably, Benji Kimpioka? Email us: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in the next edition!

Fan Letters
Fan Letters
Danny Roberts | Roker Report

Dear Roker Report,

I’m writing in about Josh Maja and the current situation.

I read that Jack Ross is nearly fed up with the situation, and I can’t say I feel any differently. We’ve given Josh a long length of rope to come to a decision one way or the other. Now, it seems he will attempt to hang Sunderland AFC with that very same rope. We support him. He walks off the pitch to thunderous standing ovations. Yet still, he can’t bring himself to be honest with us. He has become a distraction. That distraction is ballooning out of control and we need to take action, and we need to do it now.

Other posters, namely Angry Joe, and myself were saying Maja must be dropped for the good of the team and it’s chemistry. We said this with an eye to the future problem it would inevitably become, and it’s here now. Jack Ross has done nothing but support this young man, he answers questions daily about this ongoing fiasco, and it would seem Maja is fine with letting Ross take the bullets for him.

Maja’s situation has now become too big. It’s everywhere and it’s just growing by the day. For Jack Ross, a man of seemingly endless patience, to come out publicly and say he’s fed up, is really saying something. I can’t imagine what this is doing to the team chemistry. Do you really think that the chemistry will hold when there’s one player, a pivotal player to our promotion attempt, who thinks he can do what he likes and drag the club down just so he can get more money elsewhere?

Josh must be pulled from the squad. We have to show the rest of the players and indeed the fans that the team is more important than Josh Maja trying to get more for himself. We have to walk the talk. The piss taking sure doesn’t feel over.

Frankly, I’m disgusted with how this has played out, and even more vexed that it is still ongoing weeks later with no resolution in sight. Getting promoted is more important than Josh Maja’s selfish actions. I wish we hadn’t arrived here, but you could see the situation building to this. It’s all become so sad. We need to take action now, before it’s too late.

Scott Smith

Ed’s Note [JN]: To be honest, I have somewhat of a controversial opinion on the matter. It is clear by the game against Scunthorpe that Maja will not let this speculation and uncertainty get in the way of his eye for goal.

I would genuinely rather hold onto Maja for the rest of the season and let him go for naught more than the legal compensation in the summer. Although this is an issue, and one which need be remedied in the future. But that is not due to the current regime - we should have had assurances written into the original contract Maja signed when he arrived at Sunderland. For example, play a certain amount of games when he breaks through into the side, an automatic extension is triggered, followed by another if he scores an x amount of goals. These are commonplace in youngsters’ contracts, allowing both protection to the player and club for varying different reasons.

Either way, his goals (and the fact we have scored in every game this season) simply papers over many of the cracks. Yet, without these absolutely vital goals, we will not be automatically promoted at the end of the season. The fee we are looking at is genuinely nominal, and is dwarfed by what will be awarded on the event of a promotion.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Big fan of the content you’ve been producing, both for years and this past year.

Must have been tough to keep producing when relegation was inevitable and everything was bleak, but I’m glad you’ve stayed the course and are reaping the rewards now.

Regarding Josh Maja, I think it’s about time that the club end the speculation and say he’s not for sale this window for any price. I know everyone has a price in football but realistically, what price can you get for a young striker playing in League One with five and a half months left on his contract?

Whatever people think of his limitations, he has comfortably been our best striker this season, and with just ten days left in the window and our main target supposedly injured yesterday (I’m not a football conspiracist by any stretch, more just waiting for a more detailed report than “it doesn’t look good” for Will Grigg), having to identify two more realistic goalscorers in a league which seems like a crap shoot for who’s going to be good and who isn’t, while not overpaying for our desperation should Maja leave, doesn’t seem worth it.

We should absolutely be looking at bringing somebody else in, but that should be to compete with Maja, not replace at this point. We just have to look at the mistakes of the past to see that last minute deals don’t usually go well for Sunderland. I have every faith in Stewart and Charlie not to make those mistakes again, and I believe they’ve handled this very well, but there has to be a cut-off point with Maja.

Refusing offers for Maja gives us our best chance at automatic promotion, and the cash windfall that comes with it (not Premier League level but much better than another year in League One) is worth more than the nominal fee we’d likely receive for his services now. Plus it gives us until June 30th (or whenever he signs a pre-contract with somebody else) to convince him that we’re the best place for his future.

If we remain in League One next season, we can’t make that argument regardless. There’s no guarantee he takes us up, but our prospects look a lot bleaker without him.

Liam, Scarborough

Ed’s Note [JN]: As aforementioned, I agree regarding keeping Maja being the best option. He is reportedly keen to stay until the end of the season irregardless, and the more goals he scores, the more he will be in demand in the summer.

I think most of us are clearly disappointed by how these events have panned out, but it is simply one of the worst pitfalls of modern football.

Either way, I think a resolution will be welcomed sooner, rather than later. Naturally the delay is understandable, the club do not want to give in to the agent and would love Maja to commit his long-term future on Wearside.

Benji scoring his first competitive senior goal for the Lads against Carlisle earlier in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Keep Nelson or develop Kimpioka?

I know which option I prefer.

The club have made an assessment and given him a chance to start his pro career instead of hanging on to the lad forever and a day.

A great move for Nelson and I hope he does prove the club wrong. At least he now has the opportunity (and these are hard to get these days) to start his career.

Davie Barrass

Ed’s Note [JN]: I think Benji’s form this season in the cup competitions is largely part of the reason why Andrew Nelson has been let go. Although highly regarded within the academy, when his real chance to impress came (in pre-season), he unfortunately picked up a pretty serious injury.

I agree, the move to Dundee is vital for the lad to get some real playing time under his belt. Although they are looking pretty likely to get relegated from the Scottish Premiership, he should flourish north of the border. He was clearly a class or two above the loan move to Darlo, and succeeded in the Scottish second tier for Falkirk last season. However, with a wage bill needing to be trimmed, a club looking upwardly mobile and Kimpioka impressing made the inevitable more likely.

Kimpioka looks a real prospect already. He has pace and directness in abundance, along with already possessing higher technical ability than Duncan Watmore. In addition, his all-round ability and slightly awkward (or rather unconventional) playing style has already caused problems for numerous senior sides he has played against this season.

Signed as a very promising youngster recommended by the same scout as who found Joel Asoro in the academy, he should be the next off the academy conveyor belt of promising youngsters in recent years.