[[content.stanza]]Sunderland centre-back Younes Kaboul is reportedly close to joining Premier League rivals Watford and Jeremain Lens may be nearing the end of his uneventful year on Wearside.
Kaboul Goes South?
Watford, under the management of Walter Mazzarri, are said to be confident of having Younes Kaboul signed and sealed in time for their fixture against Chelsea on Saturday.
The Frenchman made 23 appearances in a red and white shirt last season and was commanding in Sunderland's narrow opening day defeat at Manchester City. And quite frankly, it just seems to make no sense for a Sunderland team who are now not only playing catch up, but facing a frantic final two weeks of the transfer window, just to assemble a squad capable of getting through to January.
If there is a master plan, then at this point it just does not look like it has been written yet.
Kaboul, with occasional question marks over his injury record, has been one of Sunderland's better performers since the turn of 2016.
At 30 years of age, cashing in, albeit for a rumoured £3m, might make a modicum of business sense; but from a footballing point of view it really is difficult to fathom this one.
It feels like someone took a phone call from Watford enquiring after Kaboul, looked him up on transfrmarkt.co.uk, saw his value was rated at around £2m on the site and quickly added a 50% mark-up and thought 'bingo!'. Of course, football is a far more complex business than that...isn't it? But, that is the mark of how crazy selling Kaboul would be at this moment.
Admittedly the deal, if it does go ahead, will have been OK'd by David Moyes, so we can only cling on tight and hope this is all part of a grand strategy. Alternatively, some have suggested that this Watford enquiry actually took place a little while ago and one would like to think that Sunderland have had the sense to rebuff it.
But, even more absurd are rumours that his replacement may be 34 year old Joleon Lescott on a free transfer. The signing of Lescott would only add to the horror felt by Sunderland fans at the prospect of losing Kaboul, having watched agog as his partner Lamine Kone has flirted with Everton right in front of their eyes.
Football fans recoiled in mockery, partly in unity with Aston Villa's suffering supporters last season, at Lescott's bizarre car tweet immediately following a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool. The rogue posting was quickly followed by an apology and a cracking explanation that the player's phone, firmly tucked away in his pocket, had tweeted the picture by itself.
Dick Loves Lens
Hard to work out if this story is simply convenient, or if there is any truth behind it; but no sooner had Dick Advocaat been announced as the new manager of Fenerbache (this afternoon), than articles appeared claiming his first signing would be Sunderland's misfit winger Jeremain Lens.
Sunderland fans are divided in to two camps over their opinion of Lens. First are those who claim they have seen sufficient talent to be assured there is a decent player in there somewhere - his goal against West Ham last November being one of the few exhibits of evidence; and those who lost patience with him almost a year ago, just after he signed.
At first glance, Sunderland's midfield lacking the rocks of Cattermole and Kirchhoff to injury and Yann M'Vila to who-knows-where, looks devoid of options, but the wide positions are actually showing some signs of healthy competition - Khazri, Gooch, Borini, Januzaj and Watmore lined up for two or three spots and David Moyes has options.
As with every transfer story, Sunderland are incredibly difficult to suss out; former sources in the local press seem to be as much in the dark as the rest of us, so we can only speculate. But, one would imagine Lens is on a good salary here and that shifting him may be prove trickier than simply suggesting Advocaat would fancy signing him for a third time. A loan deal might be the best option for all parties here though.