PAOLO Di Canio says he was happy to let Stephane Sessegnon leave Sunderland after becoming increasingly convinced the striker’s time at the club was up.
The Benin international, a fans’ favourite and former Player of the Year, was a transfer deadline day departure from the Stadium of Light, joining West Brom in a £6m record deal for the Baggies.
The striker’s future had been cast into doubt when he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving in Newcastle on the night of Sunderland’s League Cup win over MK Dons - just days before the window closed.
But his sale was still something of a surprise with Sessegnon recognised as Sunderland’s most exciting and creative player and Di Canio having said in previous weeks that he wanted to keep the African at the cub.
Speaking about the sale publicly for the first time today though, Di Canio said: “Always know this – that purely as a player, I wanted to keep him.
“But he did not make me enjoy the first three games in the league this season - he was a surprising negative in our performances.
“And then I said, OK, I think after three years, if a player is not showing the desire, if he is not home-grown or does not belong to this club, it is easy for a big player to lose his desire.
“He becomes so that he struggles to give more than 60 per cent in anything – on or off the pitch.
“So when they told me there was this chance for him to move, I decided we should take it.
“Best of luck to him.
“It gave us a chance to bring in players who can give us more options, more energy, more quality and more dedication.
“His time has gone.”
Di Canio had fought Sessegnon’s corner during the summer when the top echelons of the club approached him about the striker’s potential sale.
The Italian made it clear that he wanted to keep a player who was a proven match-winner on his day and looked as if the Italian would get his way.
But events on and off the pitch in the opening few weeks of the new campaign finally altered the head coach’s thinking, with Sessegnon’s arrest on a night Sunderland were playing being the final straw.
Di Canio revealed:“I tried to keep him but then I saw how he was in our games and I was not impressed with his desire, or his attitude.
“And then in our cup game – a crucial game for us, a game to give confidence to everybody – he was 20 miles away from the Stadium of Light and not with family
“That was the final situation which gave me the chance to decide that I couldn’t insist on him staying, because as a manager I have to be more intelligent.
“He was not at the stadium, he was not at home and to me it suggested that he did not care enough and so I say ‘go and good luck’.”
As well as Sessegnon leaving on deadline day, Sunderland brought in left-back Andrea Dossena from Napoli and striker Fabio Borini on loan from Liverpool.
And Di Canio added: “We took the opportunity to bring in a couple more players that have increased our options as a squad and I am very pleased about that..
“I know that they are hungry to prove themselves here and have a great desire to succeed, which is what I need from my players.”