Jeremain Lens’s Sunderland relegation wish is a disgrace, says David Moyes

• Lens reportedly said relegation may help hasten move to Fenerbahce
• ‘It’s disgracefully disrespectful,’ says Moyes of loan player’s comments

Jeremain Lens
The winger Jeremain Lens cost Sunderland around £13m but did not impress David Moyes, who allowed him to join Fenerbahce on loan. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA

David Moyes has branded Jeremain Lens “disgracefully disrespectful” after the Sunderland winger, on a season’s loan at Fenerbahce, was quoted as saying he hoped his parent club would get relegated.

The Holland international, previously with PSV Eindhoven and Dynamo Kyiv, was quoted in the Turkish media suggesting that Sunderland dropping into the Championship might help facilitate his ambition of a permanent move to the Istanbul club.

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Moyes, who sanctioned Lens’s loan in August, was not impressed. “It’s disgracefully disrespectful to the club which holds his registration,” the Sunderland manager said. “You hate to think of anyone connected to this club saying that.

“A lot of team-mates here who he played with are fighting every week with a small squad to try to keep us in the Premier League. It’s a disgrace to say that about your parent club.”

Lens was signed for Sunderland by Dick Advocaat – now his coach at Fenerbahce – in July 2015 for a fee reported as around £8m but which was more than £13m. After falling out with Sam Allardyce, Advocaat’s successor, he found himself reduced to a bit-part role but has shone in Turkey.

Not that Moyes, who sought Allardyce’s counsel, was ever exactly dazzled by Lens. “Maybe when he left people thought: ‘What are you doing getting rid of him?’” said the manager, whose side are at home against Stoke City on Saturday. “But I don’t know if anyone would want him back at the club now. I think it would be very hard for that to happen.

“We’d paid around £13m for him, I knew his reputation as a player, we were short of bodies and we hadn’t got a lot of quality so I did think was it right to move him on. But there were just some things I saw with him that I wasn’t sure about.

“I wanted to give him an opportunity but I didn’t feel as if I saw enough from him – and he wanted to go and work with Dick again and Fenerbahce were offering to pay all of his wages.

“I only had a few weeks with him in the summer so I was going mostly on what I’d been told by other people. I took advice from our coaches and from Sam [Allardyce] as well. They told me he didn’t play much last season.”

Wherever Lens ends up Sunderland accept that they will not recoup a figure anywhere near £13m and this, all too typical, transfer market failing has been highlighted by a Uefa analysis which shows Sunderland recorded the 11th biggest net debt in Europe during the past financial year.

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Uefa calculated the club were £181m in debt – a figure topped by only two other English clubs: Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers. The statistics reveal that of the past 46 players signed by Sunderland, only three – Darren Bent, Simon Mignolet and James McClean – were sold for a profit.

It has left Moyes, who has rejected a £7m bid from Crystal Palace for his left‑back Patrick van Aanholt and is an advocate of condensing the January transfer window into a 10-day period, with limited room for manoeuvre this month.

“I wasn’t aware how poor Sunderland’s financial position was when I took the job,” he said.

“You don’t want a club that has got that much debt because it means it’s going to make it very difficult. It’s important that Sunderland don’t spend badly now – there has probably been too much of that in the past.”