SUNDERLAND new boy Nicklas Bendtner hailed the Black Cats’ burning ambition as the key to persuading him that a Wearside switch was the right move to relaunch his stuttering career.
Bendtner penned a one-year loan deal with Sunderland late on transfer deadline day and is interested in making the move permanent if he can make an impact at the Stadium of Light over the next eight months.
Indeed after a year of “misery” on the fringes of Arsenal’s squad, he is relishing the prospect of first-team football under a manager for whom he hit 18 goals during the early stage of his professional career.
Steve Bruce knows the Dane well from their time together at Birmingham, a move that launched Bendtner’s career and persuaded Arsene Wenger to take a chance of the rangy striker. That should stand both in good stead as Sunderland look to spark their season into life after a disappointing first four games.
Bendtner is currently on international duty with Denmark but ahead of Tuesday’s critical Euro 2012 qualifier, he said: “The important thing for me every morning is to be happy. I’ve been out for almost a half year because of an accident and have not really been given a fair chance after I came back at Arsenal.
“I have not been (fully fit) for almost over a year but I am now. I am going to a place where I will be happy to be.
“I know Steve Bruce and he is a huge factor in my move. Sunderland is an ambitious club and we can look at the players that the club has picked up. And last year the team was, after all, tenth in the Premier League.”
Bendtner will be hoping that he can perform sufficiently well to put himself in the shop window, having declared his Arsenal career “dead”.
The Dane is under contract until 2014 but sees no future at the Emirates, where he has failed to nail down a regular starting spot or muscle his way into a striking pack despite the Gunners’ early-season woes.
“I will look for new clubs for next summer. I’m not interested in playing at Arsenal anymore. I am quite ready to play (for Sunderland) if I can get on my way,” he said.
It will be interesting to see how Bruce incorporates Bendtner into a strike-force that has failed to fire so far this season.
After indicating that Stéphane Sessègnon and Asamoah Gyan are his first-choice pairing, Bruce appears to have abandoned the idea that the two can score enough goals to constitute a Premier League partnership.
But Bendtner’s arrival does not spell the end of Sunderland’s faith in Gyan – despite the constant speculation that surrounded the Ghana striker in the final days of the transfer window.
He was linked with moves to Galatasaray, Besiktas and Marseille at the start of the week – and Tottenham earlier in the summer – but the Black Cats consistently maintained the line that he would not be sold, and reports that he’d handed in a transfer request were not correct.
Marseille sporting director José Anigo also claimed yesterday that the Ligue 1 club were offered the chance to sign Gyan.
“Asamoah Gyan – they suggested it to us, Sunderland wanted an exchange for (André-Pierre) Gignac, but he didn’t want to go (to Sunderland),” he told French daily sports paper l’Équipe.
But Gyan moved to address talk of him leaving Wearside, insisting he has a duty to “repay” the faith shown in him by Bruce.
“Those rumours have disturbed me, to be honest,” he said.
“I do not want Sunderland fans to think I am not happy in Sunderland. I am happy with Steve Bruce, who invested so much money in me and I will need to repay his faith. It is normal to be excited when a club such as Tottenham is interested, however I have a contract somewhere and I intend to honour that.”
Blackburn have cancelled the contract of former Sunderland manager El Hadji Diouf. The Senegal forward spent the second half of last season on loan at Rangers but they did not take up the option of signing him permanently.
Diouf incurred the wrath of Kean after returning late for pre-season training and the club have now decided to cut their losses.
“Dioufy has left the club. I think we reached a mutual-consent termination of his contract last night,” said the Scot.
“He will be moving on to pastures new and we wish him all the best.”