SUNDERLAND are thought to have recouped less than £500,000 from the sale of Ji Dong-won – a 10th of what they were offered for the South Korean international six months ago.
Ji’s two-and-a-half year stint on Wearside came to an end yesterday after the striker returned to Germany’s Bundesliga with Bavarian side Augsburg – the club where he spent the final six months of last season on loan.
The 22-year-old departed the Stadium of Light for an undisclosed fee, but sources in Germany have indicated Augsburg have splashed out less than £500,000 to take over the remaining six months of his Sunderland contract.
Ex-Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio rejected a stunning £5m offer from Borussia Dortmund during the summer for Ji, despite the frontman boasting just a year on his contract, in the belief that he could be developed into a key figure.
But Ji’s only appearances under Gus Poyet came in this month’s Stadium of Light clashes against Aston Villa and Carlisle, and Sunderland were keen to get whatever they could in this transfer window, rather than gain minimal compensation when his contract ended in the summer.
When Augsburg came in for Ji earlier this week, Sunderland gave the go-ahead for the former Chunnam Dragons man’s departure, to remove another bit-part player from the wage bill.
Poyet said: “We were not even thinking about this possibility, it was all done in three days.
“There was a decision to make and we made that, and he’s gone to Germany.
“It’s simple. Everything came together to the point where it was good for everybody.
“He had six months left on his contract, was not playing week-in, week-out, so it’s a situation that you need to analyse.
“The player wants to play football too.
“We wish him well because for some reason that I don’t know, it didn’t work out for him at Sunderland. Let’s hope it works for him there.
“He’s been in and out of the team, in and out of the club.
“He’s a very good lad, a different class person, with plenty of qualities.
“But it’s not only about players, it’s about the whole squad.”
Ji is only expected to be at Augsburg until the end of the season, when it is thought that he will finally join Dortmund.
But the arrangement will give him the opportunity to play regular first-team football, and secure his spot in the South Korea squad for this summer.
“I wanted to change clubs in the winter to get more match practice, and improve my chances with South Korea for the World Cup in Brazil,” said Ji, who netted five times in 17 appearances during his first spell at Augsburg.
“I had a great time at Augsburg last season, so I’m happy to go there again.”