Wednesday Sep 19, 2018. 09:00
Gabonese midfielder Didier Ndong has until Friday to seal a legitimate departure from EFL League One club Sunderland.
The 24-year-old remains AWOL, having failed to report for pre-season training at the Academy of Light, and has told the Black Cats that he wants out after their successive relegations from the Premier League and Championship.
Ndong could face the same fate as Senegalese defender Papy Djilobodji, who was axed by the club after he returned to training after a long period of absence and failed to pass basic fitness tests.
Ndong came close to an exit during the offseason but no deal was finalised before the August 31 deadline.
One club linked with a move for the midfielder was Portuguese giants Benfica, and they could still revive their interest in the next few days.
The Portuguese transfer window is still open for a few more days. Having only opened the window for moves in early July, clubs in Portugal are allowed to seal deals up to Friday, September 21.
The European giants were heavily-linked with Ndong in the European, with a bid of €5.5m thought to be likely - although nothing came to fruition before England's transfer window closed.
According to reports in Portugal, this was because Benfica were instead pursuing a deal for ex-Chelsea midfielder Ramires.
But with that deal having failed to come off, they could well turn their attentions back to Ndong and rescue him from a sticky situation with the third-tier English side.