Josh Maja has no regrets over swapping Wearside for Bordeaux despite his lack of game time - and says Sunderland fans should respect his decision.
The striker, who scored 16 goals for Sunderland in the first half of the season, was sold in January after a protracted contract saga which saw the Black Cats offer their top scorer drastically improved terms.
But the youngster was keen to secure a move away and - knowing he would be able to leave for a minimal fee come the summer - Sunderland acted swiftly and finalised a switch to Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.
Maja has only made six appearances so far, four from the bench, and is yet to score.
Maja has been reflecting on the move and the steady stream of negative comments he continues to receive via social media after leaving Sunderland in an interview with The Times.
“I ignore it all,” said the 20-year-old, who no longer checks his Twitter mentions or Instagram comments.
“I’m thick-skinned but, if you read it, then it can get to you.”
On the move to Bordeaux, he said: “It was a decision I made because it was the best for me.
“I don’t play to please people apart from me and my family. I want to be the best I can be and it was the right time to move.
“I know they are going to be upset but they should respect that it’s my life. People have been really on my back.
“They have a right to their opinion but for me it wasn’t easy.
“Of course they showed loyalty to me and I am grateful for that but I’ve got ambitions and to achieve them I needed to move.”
Maja looked to Jadon Sancho’s ascent at Borussia Dortmund as inspiration, knowing how difficult it would have been for him to get game time in the Premier League amid January interest from Huddersfield and Crystal Palace.
“I could have gone to the Premier League but it would have been very difficult for me to get a lot of game time because a lot of young players in the league don’t get as much as they should.
“You need to be already proven or otherwise you won’t get an opportunity. Around France you see a lot of young players starting every week.
There’s a big difference.”
Maja says he wants to be challenged and was keen to test himself abroad, he told The Times: "It’s not considered normal for a young English player to go abroad.
“Maybe they’re too comfortable, they don’t want the challenge. For me it was a risk I wanted to take, I wanted to be challenged.
“I wasn’t surprised but the tempo is slower.
“There is a necessity for technique and a good brain, which is the biggest difference so far between here and England.”