O’Neill wants to keep Sessegnon at Sunderland

WANTED MAN ... Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon.
WANTED MAN ... Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon.

SUNDERLAND plan to rebuff any approaches for star man Stephane Sessegnon this summer as Martin O’Neill works to turn a solid defensive side into a more attacking unit.

Man City were linked with a potential interest in the Black Cats’ Player of the Year over the weekend in France – though at this stage that is pure speculation.

But it would be a surprise if successful clubs did not make approaches for the Benin international over the close season after the striker’s excellent first full season in the Premier League.

Sessegnon, who turned 26 this month, was Sunderland’s joint top scorer last season but his style and skill and his ability to do the unexpected were also the key source of Sunderland’s creativity whenever they went forward.

And Martin O’Neill is keen to build on what the African offers for next season.

He said: “You can never tell what’s going to happen over the summer and I don’t want to be saying anything categorically at the start of it which will make us look foolish at the end of it – I don’t want to say something now which will be thrown back at me next season with people saying: ‘Well you said this, or you said that.’

“But having said that, there’s no doubt that Stephane Sessegnon is a player that we obviously want to keep and we’ll be doing everything we can to do so.

“He adds something to our attack that no other player does and our priority is to improve ourselves as an attacking force next season.

“If you want to do that, you have to look at keeping your best attacking players and attracting others.

“Stephane has been making the right noises about being happy to stay at Sunderland and hopefully that will be the case.”

Things might change if Sessegnon submits a transfer request over the summer but the Black Cats will hope their star player wants to remain and help Sunderland progress this season

SEE Monday’s Hartlepool Mail for full story.