Today it was announced that Jeremain Lens will join Besiktas JK permanently on 1 June for an undisclosed fee. The Dutch international had a very mixed time at the Stadium of Light to say the least, here Sam Johnson reflects on his time on Wearside.
In 2015 Sunderland signed Dutchman Jermain Lens from Dynamo Kiev much to the excitement of fans. The Dutch international had previously worked with manager Dick Advocaat at PSV and AZ Alkmaar. All the signs looked good for Lens to be a hit signing. He had flair, pace and an eye for goal. However in the end, it never worked out for Lens at Sunderland.
Initially, he started well. Getting his first Premier League goal in August in a 2-2 draw against Aston Villa. The key moment of Lens’ Sunderland career came in an October fixture against West Ham. Sunderland were struggling and needed a win, and it looked to be heading that way. Lens scored Sunderland’s second and the Black Cats were heading for their first victory of the season. However Lens was then sent off after receiving two yellow cards and West Ham pulled the game back to 2-2. This turned out to be Advocaat’s last game and the beginning of the end for Lens.
New manager Sam Allardyce was not keen on the Dutchman and he was soon dropped from the squad. A long with this, Big Sam also fined Lens two weeks wages for refusing to participate in a post match warm down after a defeat to Watford. Lens then didn’t help himself by stating he was unhappy at Sunderland and may leave in the January transfer window because “he did not come to the Premier League to sit on the bench”.
After this, Lens lost interest in playing for Sunderland and rare performances showed it. By the summer of 2016 he competed a season long loan move to Fenerbaçhe. After returning the following season he went straight back on loan this time to Besiktas, where he today completed a permanent move.
Lens will go down as a player who could have done a lot more at Sunderland, but ultimately thought he was bigger than the club paying his (very high) wages.