Martin O'Neill is hopeful that Stephane Sessegnon will stay at the club.
It's become one of the biggest worries for Sunderland fans that one day Stephane Sessegnon is going to up and leave Sunderland for the brighter lights of the Premier League, with Arsenal one of the more heavily linked sides to signing him.
However prior to jetting off to Sweden this morning, Martin O'Neill told The Journal that he hopes Sessegnon stays at the club, but fell short of putting his word to whether or not the Benin international will remain here;
We would very much like to keep Stephane - any manager would want to keep him.
He gives us that extra creativity and he is very important to us so I would genuinely like to keep him.
I would love to give a ‘hands-off' message but I wish it was as easy as that. If I was to say ‘You cannot touch him' then I might have to come back here two days later and say ‘sorry'.
That would be all bravado speak and then he's gone, so I couldn't give that sort of message.
However, I definitely want to keep him at this football club. I echo the sentiments of all of us, including the supporters on that front.
At first it seems quite shocking, but the more it seeps in, it's merely just more common sense from O'Neill. We all recall the Asamoah Gyan issues last season whereby he was going, although Steve Bruce decided to reveal to us all that he was definitely staying, only to see his biggest signing leave days later. Something that O'Neill seems keen to avoid.
O'Neill went on to explain a little more about Sessegnon's personal life, and how he's dealing with things off the pitch and life in the North East;
He texts in perfect English now! He understands. There is an element of that [whether his family are happy] but there's only so much you can do.
If some families can't settle in areas or countries then you have to take it into consideration.
That was an issue and I just hope that issue disappears again this year - I don't want that to rear its head again.
There has been talk that his family aren't overly keen on being here, and lets face it, it's quite a departure from the previous places Sessegnon has played at, but ultimately the key factor in retaining his services will be our success on the pitch - that will be where O'Neill can make the most impact on Sessegnon and his future - success on the pitch breeds confidence and happiness off it.
Ultimately, he will leave one day. There's no point in fooling ourselves that he's going to fall in love with the club Niall Quinn style and stay around for a long, long time. He'll go, that's fine, but if we can keep him here for as long as possible, it will be a huge factor in the clubs future.