Sessegnon buoyed by Di Canio influence
Stephane Sessegnon has revealed he is eager to be part of Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland revolution.
The Benin international joined the Black Cats from Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, but was linked with a potential move to China earlier this summer.
The club have been willing to entertain offers for Sessegnon this summer although he only signing a new contract last August.
Despite the speculation, the 29-year-old was named in the starting side for Saturday's Barclays Asia Trophy final, with the player admitting he is happy with life under Di Canio's management.
"The speculation is okay, I have no problem with that," he told the Sunderland Echo. "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."
Having missed most of last year's pre-season, Sessegnon has enjoyed a clean bill of health this summer, starting all four of the club’s friendlies.
Admitting his lack of preparation last year likely cost him in the opening few months of the season, Sessegnon is enthused by what he has seen from the club so far this summer.
"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."
Despite suffering their first defeat of the pre-season thanks to Edin Dzeko’s ninth minute goal, Sessegnon believes his side gave their all in Hong Kong.
Forced to play in testing conditions, while the playmaker conceded Saturday’s game was hard, he also believes that it is a requirement of the pre-season routine.
"It's always difficult when you play against a team like Man City, but then everyone could see the pitch too," he added. "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."