SUNDERLAND and Asamoah Gyan are blaming each other for the Ghanaian’s move to Al-Ain on a season-long loan.
News of the departure came as a huge shock because just over 24 hours earlier manager Steve Bruce “confirmed” Gyan would not leave in 2011.
The move, with a view to a permanent transfer, is thought to have quadrupled Gyan’s wages even though the United Arab Emirates club’s attendances are normally in the hundreds.
After Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, Bruce was quick to infer Gyan’s desire to cash in forced his hand. The striker claimed he was left with “no choice” by the Black Cats.
“The offer was too good to refuse,” said the £13m signing from Rennes. “But I did not have a choice once Sunderland accepted Al-Ain’s proposal.”
Bruce, who sold Darren Bent to Aston Villa and Jordan Henderson to Liverpool earlier this year, claimed the deal was only put to him at 9.15am on Saturday.
In a meeting between himself, Gyan and his representative on Thursday, Bruce claims the striker promised to see out the season.
“We wouldn’t have done it without me saying yes to it,” he confirmed. “I don’t think I have any choice if someone is adamant they want to leave.
“Football leaves a bad taste in your mouth sometimes. I can’t understand someone’s logic – Africa’s player of the year, a hero in his own country, to leave the biggest stage in the world to go and play in the Emirates. If it had been Real Madrid – and I spat out my porridge the day that was mentioned! – then we’d understand. I met him on Thursday, with his agent, and it’s transpired he’s talking to this, that and the other and wants to go to the UAE.
“I had him in for a cup of tea for the best part of half an hour. He shook my hand and assured me he wanted to be a Sunderland player, wanted to see the season out, go to the African Nations again in good form, work on his fitness levels and then all of a sudden within a few hours it seems things have changed.”
Despite speculation linking him with Tottenham Hotspur, Marseille, Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Atlético and Real Madrid, Bruce said on Friday there had not been a bid for Gyan during the European transfer window, which closed at 11pm on August 31.
He did say Marseille enquired about a loan, contradicting claims by striker André-Pierre Gignac and sporting director José Anigo that Sunderland suggested a swap involving Gignac late on deadline day. Gyan, who is expected to earn around £120,000 a week, was enigmatic when pressed for more detail about his motives.
“I know this move will come as a surprise to many, considering the things I have said in the past month,” he acknowledged. “Sometimes fans would not understand why we do certain things, but everything will come to light.”
In August 2010 Gyan broke Sunderland’s record transfer fee, set by Bent 12 months earlier. Both have left, while previous record-holder, goalkeeper Craig Gordon, appears to have been sidelined.
Rumours about big-money offers for Gyan began in earnest in March, when he capped a brilliant performance with an equaliser as Ghana drew 1-1 with England at Wembley. He scored just one goal since, his 11th in 37 appearances, while international team-mates Sulley Muntari and John Mensah left Sunderland this summer after disappointing loans.
Gyan’s departure has added to the pressure on Bruce, whose side are yet to win this season.
“We have to stay strong, it’ll come our way and we’ll turn it around,” said Bruce. Sunderland’s next game is at home to Stoke City, with the kick-off rescheduled for a second time to 3pm on Sunday.