The Belgian centre-back said: “I myself have chosen to to remain in Russia. We are in the Champions League again, and will compete for the league title and so on. Later we play in a brand new ultramodern stadium. I want to be a legend at Zenit. Four more matches and I am the first foreigner with 250 matches to his name. I am convinced that I made the right decision.”
These comments show that Lombaerts turned down the option to sign for the Black Cats, which goes against the official line.
As reported by the Sunderland Echo, the centre-back was said to have failed a medical examination at the club, despite the fact he has played almost 250 games for Zenit across the last seven years.
He has not spent an extended spell out on the sidelines since 2008, and at 30-years-old still has many years ahead of him playing top level football.
Lombaerts actually passed the medical, before deciding to reject Sunderland’s offer so as to stay with Zenit. He is a fan favourite with the Russian club, and having spent much of his career with them, will go down as one of their best players of recent times.
They will be fighting for silverware next term, as well as playing in the Champions League, and Lombaerts has rejected the chance to sign with Dick Advocaat’s men so as to ensure his legacy with the Russian club lives on.