Stephane Sessegnon has been one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers this season and it is no surprise that Martin O’Neill will have trouble keeping hold of the striker in the summer.
O’Neill knows first hand from his time at Aston Villa the trials of managing a team on the outskirts of the Champions League and the difficulties of maintaining the services of the club’s best players as they attempt to break into the top four.
Villa lost Gareth Barry and James Milner under O’Neill’s guidance and the club could never quite clear the final hurdle to progress to the Champions League.
Sunderland have similar aspirations now to the Villa team of old and could have been closer to the top four had they been managed by O’Neill for the whole season, as they were 17th in the table back in December when he took charge.
There is hope that they can battle for a top-six spot at worst in the next campaign, but this could hinge on whether O’Neill can convince Sunderland’s best players to stay.
One of the most likely to leave may be Sessognon, particularly if Arsenal act on early interest and make an offer, while Paris Saint Germain also want to strengthen their squad in the summer.
The good news for Sunderland fans is that O’Neill is known to drive a hard bargain and the Benin striker will certainly not be allowed to leave on the cheap.
An offer of £15m may be difficult to turn down though and this money could be put to good use in allowing O’Neill to make his own first real splash in the transfer market since taking over at the Stadium of Light.
Sessegnon could be a useful foil to Robin Van Persie at Arsenal if utilised in a central position, while his pace and directness could provide another outlet in the wide areas.
Sunderland face Tottenham next as they chase a top-eight finish this season and are 21/10 to triumph in the Premier League odds.