Sunderland legend has this message for Benfica target Didier Ndong as club works hard to shift AWOL duo
Legend Gary Bennett hopes Sunderland can this week resolve the summer-long Didier Ndong saga, having warned the AWOL midfielder he risked being '˜forgotten about'.
Ndong is wanted by Benfica and former skipper Bennett hopes the club will be able to get him and Papy Djilobodji off the books.
The pair both failed to report back to pre-season training and as a result have not been getting paid by Sunderland.
Jack Ross hopes a conclusion over their futures can be reached ahead of Friday’s transfer deadline for clubs across Europe.
Ndong, who Sunderland signed for Â£13.6million two years ago, joined Watford on loan last January but didn’t play a single minute.
He hasn’t played a competitive game since Sunderland’s 4-0 January defeat to Cardiff City and even that finished early when Ndong was shown red.
Bennett believes it would be a major boost for Sunderland if they can ship the pair out.
Bennett – who made more than 350 Sunderland appearances – said: “It is hanging over the club. It is easy to say ‘get rid of them’ but it isn’t that easy for the football club.
“You are talking about players with a couple of years left on their contracts, on very good money, that good a level of money that other clubs can’t afford them.
“Even if you ship them out on loan just to get them out the club and to ease the wage bill that would be fantastic, but it is easier said than done.
“They will have to come to some sort of agreement somewhere along the line because it cannot linger on; they haven’t turned up for training and are not part of the club.
“OK, they are on good money, but they need to pursue their careers too and to do that you need to be playing football.
“Ndong has barely played this year and sooner or later he will be forgotten about – they are not doing themselves any good.
“It is OK saying you are training on your own but you need to be training at a tempo, at a standard – day in, day out – to maintain his international career as well, never mind his club
“That is the same for Djilobodji. You soon lose your fitness and if you do that, then you will struggle to find a new club.”
Ross is still hoping to add new signings before Friday’s loan deadline, with Celtic winger Ryan Christie on his wanted list.
Sunderland have also been credited with an interest in Swindon Town’s goalscoring midfielder Michael Doughty, though he only joined them this summer and it remains to be seen whether
they’d allow him to leave on loan.
Bennett has been impressed with Sunderland’s transfer business but believes Ross will want another striker. He added: “Jack Ross knows that they are a striker or two players short to
give them more depth. That is what you need, when you look at the amount of games Sunderland have to play.”
With Sunderland working hard to shift the AWOL duo, what's the latest on Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong?
Papy Djilobodji is close to the Sunderland exit door.
Reports in Turkey claim Trabzonspor are hoping to land him on a loan deal, while there is fresh interest in a permanent deal from German side Hannover 96.
Sunderland would of course prefer to sell the flop, who has been AWOL since the start of pre-season training, with the transfer deadline for European clubs at the end of this week.
The centre-back, signed from Chelsea for Â£8million in the summer of 2016, is not being paid by Sunderland after failing to report back for training after the summer.
Midfielder Didier Ndong is also AWOL with Sunderland hoping to move the pair off the books before Friday’s transfer deadline for clubs around Europe, though the Turkish window closes on September 1.
According to the daily Turkish newspaper Sabah, Trabzonspor are hopeful of securing a loan deal for Djilobodji but he is also a target for Hannover 96.
Hannover 96 president Martin Kind has already confirmed his club’s interest in the 29-year-old.
Ndong, meanwhile, is wanted by Benfica, with other clubs in Portugal tracking him.
Ndong is eager to move on and Sunderland are eager to sell him, but a fee was agreed with Serie A side Torino early in the summer before the move broke down due to agent fees.
There has also been interest from La Liga side Leganes. The 24-year-old was loaned to Watford last January but did not make a single appearance.
Jack Ross said Tony Coton is working hard on the departures of Ndong and Djilobodji.
Ross, speaking after the 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon, added: “I said during the week I thought they were close [to leaving] and I still think that is the case.
“I have been in regularly contact with Tony and it is a lot of frustrating work for him but I think they will happen sooner rather than later, just a case of when.”