As Salut! Sunderland‘s deputy editor, Malcolm Dawson, put it in a comment on these pages late last night, the end of Sunderland’s hopes of bringing back Yann M’Vila – from Russia with the love of so many of our supporters – represents the loss of a player of known quality.
Martin Bain, SAFC chief executive, explains: “I was contacted this week by M’Vila’s representatives, who advised that the player no longer wishes to join Sunderland.
“There was a three-and-a-half-year agreement in place, however after discussions with the manager we have decided not to enforce the contract. Any player that we bring to Sunderland Football Club must be wholly committed.
“Yann M’Vila will therefore not be joining us in January and we wish him well for the future.”
It is difficult to argue with that.
But as Malcolm also said: “We could have had him for less than Ndong. I can understand the club not wishing to be held to ransom but like Marcos Alonso we’ve missed out on a proven player.”
This is where the disappointment lies. While holding out against Rubin Kazan’s preposterous demand for £8.5m for a player with only a few months left on his contract, Sunderland did spend money, quite a lot, on Didier Ndong and Paddy McNair (Donald Love was very much the makeweight when he and McNair arrived from Manchester United, accounting for only a t10th of the combined £5m fee).
Ndong’s form has so far been mostly underwhelming. The others may come good – though poor McNair, having shown real improvement before his injury, is now out for the rest of the season – but were essentially bought as future investments. What we lost through not having M’Vila is undoubtedly significant, if incalculable.
But whereas his Russian club’s greed is beyond serious question, and our own club could be accused of false economy, as I have written today at ESPN, M’Vila hardly emerges with credit from the sorry saga.
He is entitled to choose where he wishes to play his football but should not have given the impression, with the pre-transfer agreement he signed, of having made that choice in favour of Sunderland. Being led up the garden path is a phrase that springs to mind.
For all the Swansea City vs Sunderland buildup, go to the Salut! Sunderland home page and navigate easily from there …
The onus, as I argued in that ESPN piece, is now on such men as Jan Kirhhoff, Seb Larsson, the soon-to-return Fabio Borini and, yes, Ndong, to provide what has been sorely lacking and was also lacking in M’Vila’s game), goals from midfield.
If that were to start happening, and the recent sharp improvement is maintained, I suspect the great disappointment felt about the latest twist of the Yann M’Vila affair will be short-lived.