Sunderland are ready to tell unhappy Vito Mannone to do battle with Costel Pantilimon for the Black Cats number one jersey – after dismissing claims that he has asked for a transfer in the wake of the Romania goalkeeper signing.
With the club braced for bad news on Jozy Altidore – who injured his hamstring as the US triumphed over Ghana – they moved quickly to dispel talk emanating from Italy that Mannone had asked to leave following Pantilimon’s signing on Monday.
The Journal understands that the club informed Mannone of their desire to recruit a new goalkeeper over the weekend, which has unsettled the Italian – who won the club’s player of the season award last term. But there has been no transfer request and the Black Cats believe that he will be prepared to battle with Pantilimon when the squad returns for pre-season training in July.
There is an element of covering their own backs with the signing of the former Manchester City player on Monday afternoon.
Mannone has only a year of his contract left and there is no prospect of a breakthrough in those talks just yet – which prompted the club to make a move for a new stopper.
It says a lot that Pantilimon was personally scouted by Gus Poyet, who had moved to try and sign genuine competition for Mannone last season by recruiting Oscar Ustari.
Although he proved a steady option for Sunderland, Poyet wanted to bring in another goalkeeper of pedigree – which prompted the move for the Manchester City man.
There is no doubt that the Romanian stopper has come to the Stadium of Light to play.
“It is a great privilege and honour to join a club like Sunderland. They have an amazing history and tradition and of course passionate fans,” said Pantilimon.
“When I left Manchester City, it was important that I chose a club with good ambition and a manager who has the hunger and desire to take the team forward.
“After speaking with the boss, I knew this was the right place and he was the right man. I can’t wait to start.”
New sporting director Lee Congerton hailed the competition for places after announcing Pantilimon’s capture.
Congerton said: “Competition for places is healthy and brings out the best in players. We already have a great goalkeeper in Vito Manonne and another one now in Costel.
“Add to this youngster Jordan Pickford, who recently signed a long-term deal and we have a very strong stable of goalkeepers, which is vitally important in the top flight.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland spent yesterday awaiting news on striker Altidore, who appeared to sustain a serious injury in America’s opener against Ghana.
The striker was undergoing tests on Tuesday and the Black Cats nurse fears that the player may be out of the rest of the World Cup – and a doubt for the start of pre-season.
Altidore said he was “praying” for good news about the injury, while boss Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping for a positive bulletin on his front-line forward.
Klinsmann said on Monday night: “He is very, very important for us.”
Substitute John Brooks scored the winner for Klinsmann’s side in the 2-1 victory over Ghana.