STEPHANE Sessegnon is on the verge of a quickfire move to Qatar club El Jaish in the wake of his arrest for suspected drink-driving earlier this week.
The move was reported to be progressing rapidly last night.
And with the Benin international not included in the Sunderland squad which set off to Selhurst Park today, there was little to impede further progress being made today.
Yesterday, head coach Paolo Di Canio refused to comment on the situation surrounding the 29-year-old striker, who was arrested in Newcastle on Tuesday night while Sunderland were competing against the MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.
Di Canio told reporters at the Academy of Light in his pre-match Crystal Palace Press conference: “I have nothing to say about Sess.
“We will see what happens, and then I can tell you my feelings.
“But now I am focused totally on the next game.”
Further questions surrounding the issue were rebuffed but given the Italian’s hardline position on any lapses of discipline or club protocol it is extremely unlikely that he would have been a forgiving mood after Sessegnon’s problems on Tuesday.
Di Canio said barely a week ago that he did not want to sell the skilful striker, who has often been frustratingly inconsistent but is also the most talented player at the club, capable of turning a game in an instant.
The head coach said that his clear preference was to keep Sessegnon, but that’s a view which might have changed radically in the light of events this week.
Phil Bardsley broke club discipline on a night out at a casino at the end of last season and, as well as being publicly denounced by the Italian days later, it was made clear that he would never play football for the club again.
If Sessegnon finds himself in a similar position in Di Canio’s thinking right now, it is clear there is no alternative but to sell him as quickly as possible.
And in El Jaish, Sunderland have a ready-made interest with the Qatari outfit reported to have offered £5m for the striker earlier this month.
That interest looks set to be revived and completed and if that’s the case, as well as Sessegnon leaving, the club will be looking at bringing new blood in before the transfer deadline at 11pm on Monday.
Di Canio said that should Sessegnon leave, he would want not only his top priority signing – a central midfield play-maker brought to the club – but also a replacement striker.
The head coach has been at pains to point out that, in a long and challenging season, he needs five main strikers to allow him enough options in games and the chance to rotate his forwards.
Much remains to be decided, but with barely 72 hours of the transfer window remaining, it seems clear that Sunderland’s deadline day weekend will not be a quiet one.