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On This Day (2012): It’s ‘bye-bye, Babyjet!’ as Asamoah Gyan finalises his Sunderland exit

Having really connected with Sunderland supporters quickly after arriving for a club record fee, Asamoah Gyan left pretty quickly under disappointing circumstances on loan to Al-Ain - and his permanent departure was sealed on this day nine years ago.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

I can hardly believe that it was nine years ago, but today marks the anniversary of the permanent departure of Asamoah Gyan from Sunderland - a flamboyant and likeable player who had managed to win the hearts of the red and white faithful, only to lose it all after he shamelessly departed Wearside to chase the coin in the United Arab Emirates.

And... to be totally honest, who could blame him?

I was as angry and wounded as anyone at the time, but with the benefit of time, I can totally see the reasoning behind it. Gyan was hot property and was likely to make life-changing money in the UAE. Plus, he had no real ties to Sunderland, not in the way that a fan does - if a better offer came along, he was always likely to take it.

And let’s not absolve Sunderland here too. We did very well out of it, and the loan fee coupled with the eventual transfer fee, plus the money saved on wages, meant that the club weren’t exactly left licking their wounds - they made their money back, and got rid of a player who didn’t want to be here. How often does that happen?

By the same the deal was made permanent, most fans had already come to terms with his departure. He left on loan the previous September, and things had already moved on - though some fans remained hopeful that he might return after a spell abroad.

FBL-ASIA-C1-AIN-TRACTOR SAZI-TABRIZ Photo credit should read STR/AFP via Getty Images

Gyan was happy to stay there though, living a life of luxury - something he had become accustomed to since achieving celebrity status in Ghana following a headline-grabbing run as one of the top players at the 2010 World Cup.

Speaking about the move, Gyan said:

Moving to the UAE was a bit controversial but I was able to prove what I am capable of doing. My team won the league, I was the best player, top scorer and I had a perfect season.

This season will be a bit difficult for me. Most of the defenders will be very strong on me. My tactic this season is just to be fit and the quality will be there and it will show.

Then-Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill was fairly blunt in his assessment of the situation, and was happy enough to be able to move on with a clean break.

You wouldn’t really want somebody who is unwilling to come back to the football club.

It seems to be the message that’s coming across.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Newcastle United - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

All fair enough, I’d say.

Asamoah enjoyed four years with Al-Ain, before heading off to join a Chinese Super League club - again, in pursuit of decent wages, you’d imagine.

He ended up spending some time on loan with another Emirati side in Al Ahli in 2016, and then had two years playing in Turkey. He left there to join an Indian Super League side - again, another club you’d imagine were hardly scrimping with the wages - before eventually ending up back in Ghana last year with Legon Cities FC.

Some might say that Gyan wasted a potentially excellent career in favour of playing wherever he could get paid the most - and to be fair, you could probably add Sunderland to that list, given we broke our transfer record using Premier League money to sign him.

He’s definitely had fun along the way, and I guess that’s all that matters... right?

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