Simon Mignolet could become a Liverpool player as early as Monday after Sunderland finally agreed a fee for the Belgium goalkeeper.
The Journal understands Liverpool will pay around £9m for Mignolet (pictured left), although the fee could rise further if Brendan Rodgers’ side are successful next season. Black Cats power brokers were bullish at Wednesday’s fixture breakfast about the deal, insisting the Reds were still a long way from meeting their eight-figure valuation of the keeper.
But the move has not been under threat and it appears that Liverpool have crept closer to the fee Sunderland want, with the expectation that the deal will be completed in the next few days.
Mignolet will return from holiday over the weekend and is set for a medical at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground early next week. Sunderland intend to use the money to finance a number of transfers, with July set to be a very busy month for the Black Cats.
Inter Milan’s Alfred Duncan – who said he was “flattered” by the club’s interest in him – is a top target for Paolo Di Canio, who is also looking for a back-up keeper to challenge
Keiren Westwood. But it will be the identity of the club’s new striker that will most intrigue Black Cats supporters who are resigned to losing their stopper.
Mignolet’s decision is understood to have been driven by a desire to cement the number one spot for his country ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
The goalkeeper has taken the decision that Liverpool will offer him more of a platform for that. That would be debated at Sunderland, where Mignolet was assured number one duties, but the club will resolve to move on, having banked a considerable fee for a goalkeeper who cost them around £2m when he originally signed from St Truiden.
Westwood will get the number one spot next season, with Sunderland looking at Holland under-21 goalkeeper Joreon Zoet as a possible candidate to push him on next term.
Di Canio will now move on to bringing players in, with the most pressing need being a striker.
The Black Cats were linked with a move for Jozy Altidore yesterday, with Paolo Di Canio said to be interested in moving for the AZ Alkmaar striker.
The 23-year-old first played Premier League football for Hull but has improved markedly since then, and has scored 38 goals in 67 matches for the Eredivisie side.
However, the Black Cats have yet to progress their interest to an offer according to reports from Holland. Earnest Stewart, AZ’s football affairs director, said: “We have not heard anything from Sunderland, so I can not confirm the interest.”
Meanwhile, Steve Staunton has left Sunderland’s scouting team. The former Republic of Ireland international was a match assessor for the Black Cats, but has now left the club.
He is one of the few scouts left from the Pop Robson regime, with only former Leicester man Mo Kamara – the man who was influential in the recent signing of El-Hadji Ba – remaining.