SUNDERLAND are set to give Keiren Westwood an opportunity to prove his Premier League credentials next season with Simon Mignolet poised to become a Liverpool player before the end of the week.
Sources close to the deal have indicated that Liverpool and the Black Cats are currently around £3million apart on their current valuations of the goalkeeper, but a resolution is expected to be reached in the next few days – with Mignolet’s transfer due to be announced before the weekend.
And The Journal understands Sunderland are prepared to re-invest the cash in strengthening in other areas of the pitch rather than a goalkeeper replacement – with moves for Alfred Duncan of Inter Milan, Lazio’s Pedro Cavanda and Livorno’s Paulinho all at relatively advanced stages.
All would command transfer fees and with Ellis Short demanding Sunderland get smart in their transfer spending this summer, the decision has been taken to spend most of the Mignolet cash on out-field options.
The Journal understands the Black Cats have drawn up a list of potential goalkeeper targets headed by Celtic’s Fraser Forster – and the Glasgow giants are understood to be negotiating to sign Shay Given – but Westwood is considered a more-than-adequate goalkeeper to replace Mignolet. Sunderland blocked a potential January move for Westwood with this eventuality in mind.
The Black Cats may sign an up-and-coming shot-stopper to push him on in pre-season but that is unlikely to see them spend the £6million that England hopeful Forster would cost. The club have high hopes for England Under-19 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who may be allowed to leave on loan for first-team experience next season.
Although it is a disappointing development for Black Cats regulars, Sunderland appear to have taken the decision to sell Mignolet after deciding that they could not risk him moving into the final year of his contract without signing a new deal. The player’s agents turned down two offers before the season finished, allowing Liverpool to make their move.
Talks between the two parties will resume today and, while Sunderland are steadfast in their £10million valuation, progress should be made in the coming days.
Crucially, one of Mignolet’s advisers, Nico Vaesen, has a working relationship with Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre from their time together at Huddersfield, which has smoothed the way for a deal considerably.
Ayre postponed a holiday to attend to the Mignolet transfer, which will allow Pepe Reina to move back to Spain to join Barcelona.
The sheer scale of the Black Cats’ summer revolution is now becoming apparent and the club’s apparent willingness to listen to offers for Stéphane Sessègnon could lead to further upheaval this summer.
Sunderland will have at least ten new additions in before pre-season and the sheer volume of Italian players that they have enquired about illustrates Roberto Di Fanti’s intention to move quickly and decisively this summer.
A move for Duncan, for example, would see Sunderland take one of Inter Milan’s hottest properties – and a player not on the radar of most English clubs. The list of players linked with moves to Sunderland continues to grow, with the Black Cats credited with an interest in left-back Benjamin Mendy, of Le Havre.
The club are in the market for a left-back after Danny Rose went back to Tottenham and are understood to have entered into negotiations with Argentinian side Tigre over Lucas Orban.
The Black Cats were also credited with an unlikely interest in Tottenham’s Scott Parker, although his wage demands and age – he will be 33 in October – as well as the fact that they are well stocked for midfielders, would appear to make that a non-starter.