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Roker Roundup: Benji Kimpioka’s agent provides an update on the forward’s Sunderland future

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Speaking in an interview in Sweden, the agent of Benji Kimpioka - Martin Klette - has been discussing the young striker’s future with Sunderland, and where contract talks are at.

Roker Roundup 20/21
Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Kimpioka’s agent provides update

Phil Parkinson spoke about out-of-contract youngster Benji Kimpioka during his pre-match press conference ahead of the opening game of the season against Bristol Rovers, as he revealed that the club’s CEO Jim Rodwell had been in discussions with the player’s agent yesterday.

The Sunderland manager said the club have a valuation that they believe is fair for Kimpioka, with an offer on the table but pointed out that the Swedish under-21 international is already six weeks behind the rest of the Sunderland squad:

Jim Rodwell was speaking to Benji’s agent today. At the start of lockdown, I had a chat with him, his family and his agent, and said one thing you can’t do is waste another season.

You need to be back for pre-season and unfortunately he hasn’t been and that’s a shame but it’s important that we have players that are really committed to the club.

Money is difficult for young players at the moment to give them what they think they should be on. It’s difficult times.

We’ve got a valuation of where Benji should be, and it’s a very fair one in this current climate. There’s an offer on the table, but at this stage he’s six weeks behind the other lads.

Kimpioka’s agent Martin Klette quickly responded to those comments by the Sunderland boss in Swedish outlet Fotballskanalen.

Klette explained that he and the club are discussing a one-year deal for Kimpioka, with the option of a second, and that the ball is currently in Sunderland’s court.

The player’s agent also pointed out that it was the club’s idea for Kimpioka to miss pre-season and to remain in Sweden due to quarantine rules:

I can confirm that we are discussing a possible new 1 + 1 year agreement with Sunderland’s CEO Jim Rodwell. We had a telephone meeting last Friday and it is Sunderland who have the ball.

That it has taken a long time is mainly due to coach Phil Parkinson.

We had contact, both he and I, and he, me and Benjamin this summer but after discussing the agreement and Benjamin’s situation at the club for several weeks, he did not return at first and then he announced that contract discussions were not his table but he referred to their CEO. He should have known that from the beginning.

That Benjamin has remained in Sweden and trained instead of going over to England and been in quarantine due to the corona[virus] rules is Sunderland’s own proposal so it will be a bit strange for Phil Parkinson to say that it is Benjamin who chooses to miss the pre-season.

Despite that confusion, Klette says the talks with Rodwell have been constructive and Kimpioka would like to remain in Sunderland, so much so that he has turned down three top flight Swedish sides as he waits for his future at the club to be resolved:

The discussion with Jim Rodwell feels constructive. Benjamin is interested in staying at Sunderland if their football plans for him feel good and he gets a fair deal.

He has turned down three Allsvenskan clubs while waiting for it to be clear whether he will stay in Sunderland or not.

Sunderland v Leicester City U21: Leasing.com Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Bent recalls ‘best season of his career’

Former Sunderland striker Darren Bent may have left the club in acrimonious circumstances but, in an interview with Planet Football ahead of the new EFL season, Bent was very enthusiastic when recalling his time in the North East.

Bent says the support he got from the fans while he was with the club made him feel like he was flying, explaining that it was no coincidence that the best season of his career was at Sunderland during the 2009-10 season:

Going up to the North East, you know that they’re passionate up there, but you don’t know how passionate until you get up there. When I got off the plane, people are at the airport saying, ‘Darren, can you sign this?’

The way the people made me feel up there, I knew I was in the right place. I knew for a fact I’d chosen the right destination. I’d been with Frazier Campbell the year before at Tottenham and he was saying to me, ‘Darren, you’re not going to believe it when you get up here. It’s mad.’

I got up there and I trained and walking around the streets, honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was just, wow, crazy.

Coming out at the Stadium of Light and the supporters being there singing your name – honestly, it was a real surreal experience, you feed off the fans’ energy. Anyone who’s been a fans’ favourite or a top player at a club while they’re constantly singing your name, it’s like you’re flying.

They will carry you through; if you’re a bit tired you’ll run that extra yard, you’ll jump that little bit higher, you’ll throw yourself in there even if you’re going to get hurt because you think, ‘You know what, these guys want me to do it so I’m going to do it for them.’

It was an unbelievable time and a really good experience for me up there

Scoring goals in the North East is like nothing else. I was fortunate enough to win the Football Writers’ North East Player of the Year. Honestly, it’s an achievement I’m so proud of because at that stage of my career I needed to be away from London. I needed to go somewhere else and focus.

Yeah, it would have been nicer to be close to my family, but I just thought, ‘Listen, if my family want to come and see me they’ll come up there.’ Everything was just all about football.

It’s no coincidence that it was the best season of my career.

Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Former duo set for new clubs

Ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone will sign a two-year deal with AS Monaco, according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio.

Mannone has been without a club since leaving Reading in July. He had opened up about his wish to have a spell in Serie A during his career but will instead head to Ligue 1 and the club owned by Sunderland shareholder Juan Sartori’s father-in-law Dmitry Rybolovlev.

His former Sunderland team-mate Yann M’Vila is also on the move, as Zougla.gr say he is expected in Greece later today to wrap up a move to Olympiakos.

The French midfielder has agreed a three-year deal with the Super League Greece side and will undergo a medial ahead of his transfer from Saint-Etienne.

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