Sunderland flops Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji face ANOTHER summer of upheaval after Guingamp relegation

Almost a year has passed since Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji went AWOL - failing to report for pre-season training at the Academy of Light.

By Mark Donnelly
Sunday, 16 June, 2019, 18:39

But their tumultuous careers show no sign of easing-up with another big summer of change ahead for the former Sunderland duo.

We take a look at how the pair have fared since their acrimonious departures from Wearside - and what could be in store for them next:

Didier Ndong could be set for a move to Turkey this summer

PAPY DJILOBODJIWhat’s happened since leaving Sunderland?

After parting company with the Black Cats, the former Chelsea defender spent a few months in the footballing wilderness - with links to several clubs in Turkey failing to materialise.

But a deal was eventually sealed in December, when Ligue 1 side Guingamp came calling for the Senegalese centre back. That spelt a return to the French top flight for Djilobodji, who had enjoyed a successful loan spell at Dijon during the 2017/18 campaign.

This time around, however, it was a rather more torrid affair for the former Sunderland man.

Papy Djilobodji enjoyed a torrid time in France

After his move was finalised on December 31, the 30-year-old was thrown-in at the deep end and made his debut within a matter of weeks. Such a task was hard enough for a player who had been out of a first-team environment for six months and lacking in match fitness, but it was made even more difficult when he was thrust into a struggling Guingamp team facing relegation to the second tier.

His debut only served to emphasise that fact. Djilobodji was introduced after 73 minutes during the trip to PSG on January 19. His side were 6-0 down to a Kylian Mbappe-inspired side at that point, and they ultimately lost 9-0.

And if that were a baptism of fire, things were about to get much worse. Handed his first start during a home game with Reims, Djilobodji was sent-off just before the hour mark for a cynical foul as his side crashed to a 1-0 defeat in a pivotal game.

He did score for the club, in a French Cup tie, but that was about as good as it good for the centre back.

Djilobodji wasn’t seen until April after his Reims horror show - going on to feature in a 1-1 draw against Monaco and the 3-0 reverse against Nice.

He made five appearances in total for the French side, and was powerless to prevent them being relegated to the second tier.

What’s in store next?

Djilobodji penned a six-month deal when he joined Guingamp in December, and is set to see that contract expire in the coming weeks.

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Following the club’s relegation to Ligue 2, the defender is facing an uncertain future and his wages could mean he won’t be offered fresh terms.

No clubs have been credited with an interest in Djilobodji just yet, which could mean he is facing another spell searching for a club.

DIDIER NDONGWhat’s happened since leaving Sunderland?

The 24-year-old’s departure from the Stadium of Light was far more drawn-out than that of Djilobodji, with a wrangle between club and player eventually settled late in 2018.

But Ndong too spent plenty of time out the game after his eventual exit, training with a third division side in his native Gabon to keep his fitness up.

There were links to Turkey, Italy and France - and it was the latter where the midfielder eventually wound-up, penning a deal with Guingamp just days before Djilobodji also joined the Ligue 1 side.

When he agreed his deal to join the club, which was confirmed on December 28, there was talk of the midfielder being placed on a special training programme in order to build up his match fitness having scarcely played in over a year.

In reality, though, the French side were desperate for points and threw their marquee signing into the first-team fold just over a fortnight after his contract was signed and sealed.

Initially used as a substitute, Ndong grew into the side and became a key player as the months wore on - making 14 appearances for Guingamp during the second half of the season.

While used regularly, he failed to score for the club and - similarly to Djilobodji - could do little to prevent the Ligue 1 strugglers from suffering relegation.

His international hopes look to be fading too, with the midfielder absent from the Gabon national squad in recent months.

What’s in store next?

Unlike Djilobodji, Ndong’s contract at Guingamp still has a year to run - but he is expected to leave this summer.

Having now found his feet in the game, the midfielder looks set to make a move and is already thought to have clubs pursuing his services.

Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor, who were previously heavily-linked with the midfielder, are reported to be set to reignite their interest in the former Sunderland man - and could offer him a pay rise of almost £500,000 a year in order to finalise a deal.

It is understood that a fee will need to be negotiated between the two clubs, but reports in Turkey suggest that process is already underway, meaning that it could only be a matter of time until the ex-Lorient man is on the move once more.