STÉPHANE Sessègnon could be a surprise victim of the wide-ranging Paolo Di Canio revolution at Sunderland.
Di Canio is overseeing major changes this summer and the club have already secured deals for four out-of-contract players – along with making moves for Argentinian defender Lucas Orban and Serbian winger Milos Krasic. But major surgery to the club’s playing staff will not be limited to incoming players, with Di Canio prepared to be utterly ruthless in getting the right chemistry in his Black Cats group.
That could include sacrificing some of the club’s more high-profile players, with a measure of uncertainty now clouding Sessègnon’s future on Wearside. The Journal understands that sources close to the player have told at least one Premier League club that Di Canio would be ready to listen to offers for their client in the last week.
It has not gone any further than that at this stage, but the Italian was understood to be dismayed by Sessègnon’s red card at Aston Villa, which led to Di Canio levying a fine against the Benin play-maker.
He also ordered Sessègnon, along with Craig Gardner, to continue training at the Academy of Light during the run-in that both were banned from.
Di Canio’s priority is the team rather than individuals and he will be prepared to sacrifice star players if he believes it will benefit Sunderland as a whole.
He is considering major changes in Sunderland’s style of play and their system, which will be radically altered from the rigid formation that saw Sessègnon playing the ‘number ten’ role behind Danny Graham.
Instead, Di Canio wants to completely overhaul Sunderland’s attacking options and is ready to cash in on Cardiff’s interest in Danny Graham, with fellow striker Connor Wickham also available if the price is right.
It had been widely assumed that Sessègnon would be part of his plans but if a sizeable offer was to come in for a player who has been on Manchester City’s radar in the past, it would allow Di Canio the funds to carry out even more extensive team-building.
The Italian has been in regular contact with Roberto De Fanti and is prepared to be ruthless in making the changes that he believes the club needs to avoid a repeat of their 17th place finish last year.
Defender Phil Bardsley will be told today to find a new club, with sources close to the player admitting to The Journal that they are “99% certain” that he has played his last game for Sunderland. Hull City have been credited with an interest in the defender. Sunderland continue to be active in the transfer market and have made an offer to Argentinian club Tigre for their left-back Lucas Obran, although they have been told to improve it to have a chance of landing the 24-year-old, who can also play in the centre of defence.
They are still interested in Danny Rose, although they know Tottenham will not be looking for a quick sale of a player who is also interesting Liverpool.
Rose is currently with the England Under-21 squad which arrived in Israel yesterday ahead of the European Championship finals, which begin on Wednesday and run until June 18.
The Black Cats have already made moves to sign Modibo Diakité, the Lazio defender, and Maritimo stopper Valentin Roberge, while their deal for FC Basel’s Cabral was confirmed on the Swiss club’s Twitter feed on Saturday.
Talk of a £6.5m bid for Simon Mignolet from Liverpool can be dismissed, however.
Sunderland are aware they are vulnerable to suitors for Mignolet – indeed former Newcastle man Fraser Forster has been earmarked as a contingency plan replacement – but it would take much more to tempt them into selling the Belgium goalkeeper.