STEPHANE SESSEGNON wants to stay at Sunderland and be part of the Paolo Di Canio revolution.
Sunderland have been willing to part company with Sessegnon this summer, despite the Benin international only penning a new contract at the Stadium of Light last August.
It is the second successive summer where Sessegnon’s Sunderland future has been in doubt, with the speculation affecting the 29-year-old’s form during the opening few months of last season.
But Sessegnon, who started Saturday’s Barclays Asia Trophy final defeat to Manchester City, is enjoying life under Paolo Di Canio and insists he is fully focused on the Black Cats.
Sessegnon told the Echo: “The speculation is okay, I have no problem with that. But I’m happy at Sunderland. We’ve worked well in pre-season and hopefully we can continue like this.
“I’m enjoying it at Sunderland and my mind is for Sunderland now.”
Sessegnon’s form last season wasn’t helped by his lack of pre-season action either after he failed to feature in any of Sunderland’s friendlies under Martin O’Neill.
But the former Paris St-Germain forward has started all four of Sunderland’s pre-season encounters so far and is encouraged by the club’s preparations for the Premier League campaign.
“It’s a very important time, you need to have a pre-season,” he said.
“You need to do the hard work to start the season well.
“I think that affected me during the first few months of last season. But this year is different because we’ve had a good pre-season, with a lot of good players coming.
“That’s made everyone work hard in training and we’ve got a strong mentality too among the players.
“It looks good already for the start of the season.”
Sunderland suffered their first pre-season defeat on Saturday after Edin Dzeko’s ninth minute opener proved sufficient for City in dreadful conditions in the Hong Kong Stadium.
Sessegnon added: “It’s always difficult when you play against a team like Man City, but then everyone could see the pitch too.
“I know it’s the same for the two teams, but we gave everything.
“Unfortunately, there was no chance for the team to win.
“We didn’t create many chances, but City played well. They were compact and they defended together. It was difficult for us.
“Pre-season has been hard, but it’s good.
“We’ve played four games, won three and lost one.
“Let’s hope it continues like that because we have 19 days or so until the season starts.
“If we continue to work well, we’ll be ready to start the season strongly.”