Well it’s finally happened and Josh Maja is departing for pastures new as the following Twitter post from Nick Barnes confirms.
To clarify: @stewartdonald3 has told me Josh Maja has played his last game for #safc. They had hoped they could keep hold of him until the summer but the player took his belongings and said he was leaving. Negotiations are now being pursued with Bordeaux.
— Nick Barnes (@Tweed_Barnesy) January 23, 2019
Time to move on. Jack Ross is a pragmatic sort and will no doubt work with what he’s got and hopefully what he gets before the transfer window shuts. It’s not an ideal scenario, losing your top scorer and with Jerome Sinclair’s return to Watford and Andrew Nelson also being allowed to leave we are left a bit light up top, but as many will say, no player (and especially no agent) is bigger than the club. It is to be hoped that replacements are brought in quickly but with other clubs being fully aware of the situation can we expect potential targets to suddenly become more expensive?
Pete Sixsmith has his own take on the situation.
Nick Barnes broke the news on Wednesday night that Josh Maja had played his last game for Sunderland at Scunthorpe and that it was likely that he would trade the slog of Division One and trips to Accrington, Rochdale and Fleetwood for Bordeaux and visits to Marseille, Nice and Paris. The county Palatinate of Lancashire pales into insignificance when compared to the Cote d’Azur and the City of Lights.
It’s a shame but once the deadline set by the club had passed, it was inevitable. The only things left to decide were when he would go and where he would go. Girondins Bordeaux is the likeliest destination, a club formed in 1881 and who play in a stadium that seats 41,000 – in other words, a club that is similar to Sunderland in terms of history and support. They have been more successful than we have over the last few years, which wouldn’t be very difficult – probably about as difficult as being out-thought by Chris Grayling.
They won the Ligue 1 title as recently as 2009 and the Coupe de France in 2013, have produced two world class players in Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana and are currently sitting in 11th place in Ligue 1, 11 points away from a Champions League place and 11 points away from a relegation slot. My guess is that they will not be concerned with either at the end of the season.
When I heard the news that he was about to leave, I was not surprised. Had he been keen to extend his stay on Wearside, he would have signed the contract that the club offered him and perhaps gone on to fire in the goals that would take us back to the Championship and hopefully, help us to consolidate our position in that most competitive of leagues. But once he made it clear that he would not agree to deadlines, it was inevitable that he would leave and that he would go to a European league with Germany being the likeliest destination.
His agents, the Elite Project Group, have a strong track record in this area, engineering moves for Jadon Sancho from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund and Reiss Nelson from Arsenal to TSG Hoffenheim. Both are the same age as Maja and both are flourishing in the Bundesliga. So, the move to France was a bit of a surprise.
French domestic football is not at the same level as the top leagues in England or Germany and the league is a procession behind the obscenely wealthy, Qatari owned Paris Saint-Germain. Whether Maja will flourish here, remains to be seen.
The move is disappointing but it is how football is in the 21st century.
Players look for moves to progress their careers and to extend their bank balances. Some, like Marko Arnautovic, are looking for a huge pay day in China. Others, like Alvaro Morata, need to get away from a club that no longer rate them. Maja does not fall into either of these two categories.
Financially, a new deal at Sunderland would have given him a comfortable bank balance. The manager liked him. He was a regular starter and was scoring goals albeit at a low level. He would have played a major part in getting the club up and then he could have tested himself in the Championship before making a move to the Premier League, perhaps back to London, his home city. Maja has benefited Sunderland and Sunderland have benefited Maja. The 16 goals that he has scored this season have given us a base to build on and the fee that he brings in can hopefully be used to bring in two replacements who can build on his good work.
On the other hand, the club have taken a young player who had not made it at Fulham and Crystal Palace and who was looking for a club. He came through the Kinetic Foundation, an organisation that uses sport to support disadvantaged young people in South London and I imagine that they advised him about the move to Wearside when he was 16. He worked his way through the Under 18s and Under 23s and arrived in the first team last season and scored within five minutes of coming on. This season, he has been first choice and appeared to have a good relationship with Jack Ross.
That relationship has clearly been strained recently and Ross has looked weary whenever a question was asked about Maja. It looks as if he had accepted that he would be leaving last week and that maybe the illness he suffered prior to the Luton game was as genuine as the ones I used to have if I fancied a midweek away game. The club find themselves in a difficult position. Keep him and they have a player in the dressing room who clearly does not want to be there. Keep him and they run the risk of losing out on what for us, is a substantial fee. Keep him and they risk upsetting what appears to be a harmonious first team squad.
On the other hand, sell him and they will be accused of doing what the club has done for many years – sell its best players. Starting with Colin Todd and running on through Marco Gabbiadini, Michael Bridges and Darren Bent we have weakened ourselves by taking the money and then frittering it away. Those who are not convinced by the current owners will use this to fuel their rants.
Some that got away.
I am disappointed that Maja has left, but I can understand why he has made the move. He would say that Sunderland have developed him and he leaves them in a stronger position than they were when he arrived. He has every right to turn down a new contract and look to see whatever else is available to him. The word “loyalty” will be bandied about and accusations will be hurled at a young man who has made a decision that has annoyed many Sunderland supporters. Those who have said that he lacks pace, has no physical strength and who does nothing but score goals, will be satisfied tonight.
Some of us are disappointed that another promising young player has left us, following in the footsteps of Joel Asoro and Paddy McNair. Interestingly, neither of those two have done anything worthwhile at Swansea City and Middlesbrough respectively.
I hope that things go well for Maja. He has scored some very good goals for us and his contribution to the cause has been extensive. But, should he ever appear at the Stadium of Light again, I cannot guarantee him a rousing welcome.
20 thoughts on “You’re going to like this but not a lot as Maja does his disappearing act”
Maja looks like a natural goal scorer, but he is still young and in his first full (half) season. I think he has made a big mistake in moving to France; average team, plus differences in football style, language, culture etc.
I would be very surprised if he starts 3 games before the end of the season.
Good luck with Les Girondins Josh!
When was the last time an english player signed abroad? I believe this is good for english football if some of its younger talents get an experience in mainland europe. Maja would have probably had a better deal by signing for West Ham or Palace, but what would have been the point?
We can still go up without him, no need to fear.
I have no idea whether Maja will make it in the big time or not. He may well join the long line of players whose early potential is never realised.
We have had several recent examples – Wickham, Richardson and Anton Ferdinand come to mind – hailed as potential stars, snapped up for serious money only to discover that their ability didn’t quite match up to the demanding standards of top football. At best journeymen.
It is very difficult to find a Kevin Phillips from the lower leagues. Everyone is looking for them.
The key thing, IMO, is don’t keep discontented players. Look for people who want to play for you. Team spirit can make up for an awful lot in any sport [ or business ]
Our management are doing very well. They seem to have a corporate vision. Despite Brian’s misgivings I think we will at worst make the play offs this season. I definitely would have settled for that at the start of the season. And……….we might still get automatic promotion. Would Brian revise his opinion then?
And so he’s gone with the briefest of announcements on the club website. No thanks, no good wishes. Hopefully that will come later for as disappointing as it is that he’s gone he was always prepared to give his all on the field.
Many of us will have moved jobs during our working lives and this is Maja’s job. As details of the deal emerge it looks as if he will be on a better contract than he might have got had he stayed, though obviously I don’t know that for certain. Whether it will be better for his career development remains to be seen.
Interestingly it would seem that initially the club could get nothing as we still owe Bordeaux £1.5 million for Khazri so it looks as if the club won’t have any extra to spend this window.
Still think the Leadbitter signing seems a bit unnecessary, unless there is someone about to leave. We seem overloaded in that area.With Robson on the way back we have 8 players already who can do that job or is Honeyman’s injury more long term than has been admitted? Strange one.
We move on as has Maja, Far from the finished article and time will tell whether he has made a good career move or a bad one.
We got our club back, and we are now on track in a slow and sensible recovery (hopefully). I trust Jack Ross to make sure that the squad is strengthened and the income from JM’s sale will help with that.
The names we are linked with provide more cause for optimism. Eaves,, Grigg, Leadbittter and particularly the prospect of McNulty who would be a great acquisition.
With references to Pulis, could Brian be Smoggie in disguise?????????
Unfortunately not. Smoggie passed away just two days after he was at the SoL to see the Boro beat us.
Smoggie liked a bit of crack and looked for a response but was nowhere near as boring and repetitive as he who calls himself Brian is.
Sorry, unaware. Thanks for telling me.
The Lives of Brian appear to be one of those gifts that cannot stop giving.
Ah,Brian. Keep it coming mate. Charlie Hurley was mediocre,the ’73 Final was dull and Monty was really lucky when he shut his eyes and the ball hit his hand. Phillips was a mere journeyman and what did Quinny ever do for Sunderland?. Giant lizards really rule the world and what about Opus Dei who’ve been an influence in the boardroom for decades. Donald Trump is the new Messiah (or is it Rafa?) who will bring justice ,honesty,peace and reconciliation to all nations.. That horse had been mouthing off for ages before the Mag hit him as well. Keep it up Brain (sorry,Brian) it’s all good stuff.
Are we about to lose a midfielder? If the reports that Leadbitter is to have a medical are true we surely must be about to lose someone. Mumba on loan maybe though he’s talking about ambitions of a Wembley appearance.
On Tuesday Robson looked to be on the way back and with O’Nien not needed at right back with Matthews fit again we seem to have enough in that area of the pitch.
I can’t really think any club is looking to match Catts salary. It all seems a bit strange.
Nowt wrong with Hovis. I expect you are more of a sourdough type Brian or whoever you are.
Best of luck maja. Dont let the hovis and flat cap brigade get to you. Only hypocrites and know nowts would begrudge what you are doing.
Staying under the tutelage of mr insipid would be bad for your development. As it is you will be at least dpubling your wages, a fat sign on fee, better league and a new country.
Disturbingly mr insipid and our twin chancer owners are embarking on wasting whatever proceeds we get.
33 yo leadbitter..ye gods man. What a pointless signing.
An ageing poisoned dwarf with the pace of a paralysed snail. Hello we already have catts, power, mcgeoch, honeyman. I’m sure I have missed names from pur pantheon of ineffective midfielders. Leadbitter will fit in a treat.
Now we hear we have bid for wyke lookalike keifer moore.
Another big lump we can lump balls up to. People complain about pulis.
Gk to cb and wack the ball up front and bypassing out hobbits in midfield.
Ross you managerial maestro
Get a life Brian.
We Brian? We? I’m afraid you give yourself away when you slip in the words ‘we’ and ‘our’, everything else is in the tone of ‘you lot’, ‘that lot’, ‘them lot’, Here’s a challenge Brian, tell us about a time when ‘we’ were happier with what was happening at ‘our’ club. Just a bit hard for the black and white Brian brain maybe.
I read the transfer news and comments yesterday evening and was not surprised. The kid has disappointed with his attitude.
Then I started getting live pictures about the fire in Blandford Street and was more concerned about that. A street that has known better days and where I worked on Saturdays as a teenager in what was then called a boutique……
Thank God Muller’s bakery and shop was not affected.
I’ll miss his goals and nothing else. His all-round game is poor and he contributes very little to the team. Can’t trap a ball, no hold-up play, can’t jump for a ball and it’s a bit like watching a dog with a balloon. For someone who looks like they’ve never played football before his innate goalscoring ability is pleasantly surprising. Like I say, I’ll miss his goals but I don’t expect he’ll be pulling up any trees at a big club.
As you say he has every right to move and there is no way I could disagree with that. What leaves a sour taste is the manner.
Going into the managers room & saying he wants to sign the contract only for his agent the next day to call Sky & say he’s leaving. Then Maja for weeks not confirming if he was going or not. This meant the club did not know if they needed 1 or 2 strikers and as we know they are difficult for us to sign.
This then comes to a head just a week before the window closes making it even hard for us to find a replacement.
I just hope we don’t live to regret letting nelson go. Last night he assisted one goal & scored another.
Sunderland under Jack Ross and the new owners has been all about togetherness and bonding the players in the dressing to a single purpose unit. So far so good.
Players who wish to be no longer at the Club should be immediately shipped out to maintain the unity that has been established in the dressing room.
No player is bigger than the whole, so we move on. Yes he will be missed and I should hope that he goes with the best wishes of most fans. Yes I think he has made the wrong decision in both leaving the Club and where he is going to. Still there you go.
Now back to the main event and our promotion push……..
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