Malc Dugdale says...
If this turns out to be true, it says a few things to me.
First and foremost, if we make signings and they don’t quite work out, we’re happy to move players on.
Hopefully, with Lihadji rumoured to be heading to Qatar, we could get a decent price for him despite his minimal involvement. It’s odd that he’s travelled to the US, so I have to assume that the price outweighs his value and potential to us from what the club has seen.
It also demonstrates that we’re making decisions at the right end of the transfer window. If he isn’t fitting in and we’ve had a decent bid, I’d rather we sold now and used the funds to replace him with better options than leave it too late.
Ultimately, I don’t think we would let someone go unless we were sure it was the right thing to do, and there’s no shame in dealing with such a challenge promptly and moving on.
The days of Sunderland being an easy payday for players are over, so let’s see what we get for Lihadji and what we can do with that income before the season gets underway.
Martin Wanless says...
I’d be really disappointed if he does leave.
We’ve barely seen anything from him, but he seems to have talent based on the brief glimpses we’ve witnessed, and he came with an excellent reputation. If he was the right player to sign in January, he’s surely still the right player, but maybe something’s not right off the field, and perhaps he’s not settled in the area or at the club.
From a footballing perspective, the challenge he’s got is winning a place in the team.
I don’t see him displacing Patrick Roberts, and in reality we’ll likely sign a replacement for Amad, too, so Lihadji couldn’t be blamed if he thought ‘screw it’, and left in search of first team football.
If we do decide to let him go, however, I’ll trust the judgement of the club.
They’ve earned that over the past couple of seasons, and if they think it’s right to move him on, then so be it.
There’s so much that we’re not exposed to, and there’ll be other factors at play, but it’ll be a shame to see him leave when he’s not had the chance to really show what he’s truly capable of.
Phil West says...
I have to admit that I was slightly surprised at the news.
It’s important to stress that this is merely speculation based on an article in L’Equipe, but perhaps there's some substance behind it as the summer window rolls on.
Lihadji has been here for less than six months and has had very few chances to impress, barring brief cameos here and there, and I wonder whether something’s gone on behind the scenes that’s possibly set the wheels in motion for his departure.
Whenever he did play, he showed flashes of talent but it’s desperately hard to judge exactly how good he actually is, so rarely did he get a chance to fully demonstrate his ability.
In terms of what the root cause could be, I’d agree with Martin in that perhaps he’s simply failed to settle on Wearside.
Maybe the coaching staff have seen enough to determine that he’s not the right fit for us, or maybe there are question marks over his attitude and application- something that’s rarely been the case at Sunderland recently, as we’ve established a very strong team-driven ethos that sees everyone work extremely hard for each other.
It goes without saying that not every transfer we make will be successful, and particularly when it comes to bring younger footballers to the club.
Those that have worked in recent times have often been spectacularly successful, but if Lihadji does move on, you’d definitely mark it down as a failure in footballing terms, albeit one that could be eased somewhat if we were to receive a decent fee for him.
Every club has to deal with unsettled players at some stage, and how you move them on, hopefully with minimal drama and rancour, is key.
If that’s the case here, let’s hope that a solution can be found which suits all parties and that won’t disrupt our preparations for the new season.