There can’t be too many transfer windows that have had worse impacts on a club than Sunderland’s in the summer of 2016.
Having narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League in the previous season under the guidance of Sam Allardyce, David Moyes took over as manager and decided to bring in a number of players in an attempt to bolster the Black Cats’ squad.
Paddy McNair and Donald Love arrived from Manchester United whilst the signing of Didier N’Dong was considered somewhat of a coup. Yet it was the decision to bring in Papy Djilobodji from Chelsea for £8m (according to Sky Sports) that was arguably the most eye-catching of deals made by Sunderland. The Senegalese central defender only appeared on one occasion for the Blues during his time in London but had shown promising signs whilst on loan at Werder Bremen where he helped save the Bundesliga side from relegation.
However, his performances in Germany proved to be a false dawn as despite initially impressing for the Black Cats, he began to show worrying signs of a lack of discipline. After needlessly being sent off in a rare home victory against Hull City in November, Djilobodji was handed a four-match ban two months later for elbowing Steven Fletcher in the face during a 2-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion.
As a result of these two moments of madness, the defender missed a total of five games which saw Sunderland pick up just four points as they spiralled towards relegation from the top-flight. With Moyes unable to trust Djilobodji following his second offence, he remained an unused substitute for the remaining 12 fixtures of the season as the Black Cats finished bottom of the Premier League.
After being sent out on loan for the entirety of the 2017/18 campaign, the former Chelsea defender returned last summer with his club facing their first season in the third tier for 31 years. His stay didn’t last long though as Sunderland terminated his contract after he decided to turn up to training a month late before proceeding to fail a fitness test (via The Telegraph).
Following a five-month spell without a club, Djilobodji joined Ligue 1 side Guingamp in January, making his debut in his side’s embarrassing 9-0 defeat to Paris-Saint Germain. A disastrous return to France was compounded by an extraordinary act of ill-discipline in his second appearance for his new side as he lashed out at Reims forward Pablo Chavarria, breaking the Argentine’s nose by kicking him in the face.
A six-game ban was given to Djilobodji by the French Football Federation (via the BBC) with the 30-year-old still waiting to be given another chance by a Guingamp side who are almost certainly going to be relegated to Ligue 2 in May.
The defender’s fall from grace in recent years has been remarkable as his lack of professionalism has ultimately ruined what could have been a promising career for the Senegal international. Unfortunately for Sunderland and now Guingamp, the two clubs have simply been collateral damage in Djilobodji’s spectacular implosion as a football player.