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Paid £10m, sold for £0: Sunderland nightmare over player who didn’t “want to play”

We look back to a time when Sunderland had a nightmare over a player who didn’t “want to play” – as the club paid £10m, but sold for £0.

There was renewed hope when Kyril Louis-Dreyfus took over as the owner of the Black Cats, however after a positive start to the season, the manager was sacked due to unrest yet was in the playoffs but no find themselves outside of it since replacing Lee Johnson with Alex Neil.

The North East outfit are currently in their fourth successive season of League One football after going down from the Championship in 2018.

Jack Rodwell: Story of talent, injuries, and too big wages! - Witty Futty

Sunderland nightmare over player who didn’t “want to play”

They suffered back-to-back relegations between 2017 and 2018 after being in the top flight for a number of years, having made a number of poor transfer decisions whilst playing in the Premier League leading up to the 2016/17 campaign.

One of those players that they brought into the club was Jack Rodwell from Manchester City, who Gus Poyet snapped up for a fee of £10million in 2014 as Football Fancast report.

He played 25 times for Man City after joining them from Everton two years before, but this move to Wearside ended up being even worse for the player and club.

In four years at Sunderland, he made 76 appearances and failed to win any of his first 37 Premier League matches at the club, this set a league record as he started 39 top-flight games in total without picking up a win before a 4-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace in February 2017.

He now plays for Australian club Western Sydney Wanderers, scoring twice in nine games for the 2021/22 season.

Former Sunderland boss Chris Coleman once ripped into the player whilst the club were in the Championship, saying: “He trains with the U23’s every morning, in that nice, safe umbrella, he’s not in the spotlight or the firing line with the rest of us, which he chose.

“When I say don’t know where he is I mean physically and mentally, and there’s no interest [from me] because he’s not the answer for us.

“He’s got one more year on his contract and he doesn’t want to play for us, so fine, go and play for somebody else, but the stumbling block is the contract.”

Sunderland nightmare over player who didn’t “want to play”

Rodwell eventually departed in the summer of 2018 on a free transfer as he signed for Championship side Blackburn Rovers with Sunderland’s relegation to League One confirmed, finally ending his Stadium of Light spell, much to the relief of fans.

This means that they paid £10m for him to go really an entire Premier League season without picking up a win for the Black Cats, before choosing not want to play in the second tier whilst still being paid each week.

They also failed to recoup any money for him as he was allowed to leave on a free transfer.

It was a dreadful piece of business and really showed how bad things got at the club, who will surely be desperately trying to avoid repeating if they ever make their way back to the top flight.

Even though you could say some of their recent transfer deals have been good, one to bring in Jermain Defoe looked possibly like it was a good one.

But rumours have it that old manager Lee Johnson didn’t want him at the club before departing, Defoe came in, signing a deal until the end of the season, struggled to open his account added with lack of game time and then announced his retirement after 51 days at the club. It’s left some questioning was it a PR stunt.

Speaking last month, Neil said: “I think it’s probably frustrating for Jermain because he’s not come in at full fitness,” said the Sunderland boss. “What you need to bear in mind as well is his age. If you look at Jermain, he’s a fine specimen in terms of him being in good nick and naturally looking after himself. He’s not carrying an ounce of fat. But he’s not got any game sharpness.

“That’s not his fault – the simple fact is that he wasn’t playing football and he’s come in with really, really limited game time, and we’ve got really, really limited time between now and the end of the season.”

It remains to be see whether the current crop of players can pick up their form and claim a playoff place come the end of the season.

But should they not, a lot of questioned will again be asked. What happens next? Who should or can they bring in? Will they have decent amount to spend this summer?

Sunderland fans were already left furious at being “misled again” as ownership revelations emerged in February.

News came that former owner Stewart Donald was still a prominent stakeholder in the club.

Sunderland nightmare over player who didn’t “want to play”

The Swiss-French billionaire completed his takeover of the League One club a year ago with the Madrox group consisting of Donald, Juan Sartori and Charlie Methven retaining what was believed to be a minority shareholding.

Now, after months of unanswered questions and radio silence, Louis-Dreyfus revealed he owns just 41 per cent of the side.

Donald, who bought Sunderland back in 2018 from previous maligned owner Ellis Short, retains a 34% stake, Sartori 20 per cent and Methven five per cent – a cumulative total that would exceed the stake Louis-Dreyfus holds.

Louis-Dreyfus recently ‘apologised to fans who felt misled and thinks he may have misjudged the sensitivity of the issue. It was never the intention to mislead.’

They continued with Louis-Dreyfus saying that over the last year he has been ‘focusing on the task in hand and will communicate more with fans in the future.’

Supporters questioned why Louis-Dreyfus did not purchase 51 percent or more of the club when he arrived in February last year, and the minutes said: ‘A variety of different shareholdings were discussed but an acceptable commercial deal was found at 41 percent for all parties.

‘[Louis-Dreyfus] wanted the club and was prepared to compromise on the shareholding size but not on control of SAFC. ‘There have been discussions with Stewart Donald about increasing [Louis-Dreyfus’] shareholding, but to date it hasn’t been possible to agree a deal.’

Louis-Dreyfus says he’s willing to allow another investor to buy into the club, but he will not give up control.

‘If a credible buyer with sizeable funds capable of passing the EFL’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test and who agrees with the vision of the club, wishes to buy shares in the club, [Louis-Dreyfus] would be happy for another party to invest, but will not relinquish control.’

Sunderland fans have want Donald and Methven to sell their shares and leave the club, and the supporters’ collective reiterated that plea. Louis-Dreyfus opts for a diplomatic response saying ‘he is very focused on the running of the club and not conducting his business in public; there are more important things to deal with.

‘[Louis-Dreyfus] confirmed he makes all decisions at the club regarding on or off-the-field appointments and investment. Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven have funded the club when required but [Louis-Dreyfus] has control on governance.

‘Ownership should be discussed at the end of the season.’ The supporters’ collective also underlined the firm belief that, when they depart, Donald and Methven should return the full balance of the parachute money that they took out of the club.

Louis-Dreyfus ‘has seen no legal agreement to repay the money although is aware that Stewart Donald told fan groups that he will repay the money. ‘The parachute payments were written off before [Louis-Dreyfus] took over although there is a verbal commitment to the fans to repay it.

‘There is no debt attached to Sunderland concerning the parachute payments, a new investor would not take on such a liability.’

With Donald and Methven expected to sell their stakes in the club at some stage,the Louis-Dreyfus and Sartori families have been friends for a while and Juan Sartori – who is involved in politics in Uruguay – is looking to retain his shares.

‘It was advised that Juan intends to work with [Louis-Dreyfus] to bring the club back to the Premier League and while he [Sartori] is busy with politics, remains committed to the club.’

Louis-Dreyfus also spoke about the decision to sack Lee Johnson at the end of January, and bring in Alex Neil.

‘[Louis-Dreyfus] confirmed the main objective is to be promoted at the end of the season. It would have been easier and cheaper to keep the previous head coach and [he] believes that the new head coach gives the club a better chance for promotion.’

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