Simon Mignolet has completed his £11million transfer to Liverpool in a move that Paolo Di Canio hopes will recapture their recruitment momentum this week.
Mignolet has signed a long-term contract with the Reds, which will allow Black Cats keeper Keiren Westwood to graduate to become the club’s new number one.
And the 25-year-old said of his new side: “It’s a big club; when you arrive it’s a big thing.
“I’m very pleased to be here and I’m looking forward to getting started. I think it will be very special the first moment I step onto the pitch.”
Although disappointing for Di Canio to lose a player he would have preferred to keep, there was a pragmatism about the move – which should allow Sunderland to make fresh offers for several targets.
The Black Cats still hope to land Inter Milan’s Alfred Duncan, while they maintain a very real interest in Argentinian winger Ignacio Scocco – who is likely to leave Al-Ain after the end of his loan spell with Newell’s Old Boys.
They also need two full-backs, with Tottenham’s Danny Rose and Lucas Orban, a target of Villarreal, also in the frame.
There is an acknowledgement at the Stadium of Light
that having seen one bid turned down for Duncan, they will need to raise further funds to get close to Inter Milan’s asking price of around £8m. The Mignolet sale appears to be the best way to top up funds ahead of moves.
The Belgium goalkeeper departs with the best wishes of Sunderland but there is also a measure of realism about a decision which will give Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Westwood the chance to stake his claim.
Sunderland intend to sign a young goalkeeper to push Westwood during pre-season and have an interest in Holland under-21 goalkeeper Jeoren Zoet, but it is clear that the former Carlisle man is the main contender moving forward.
It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Westwood, who was considering his options earlier in the summer.
After being elbowed out of the Ireland team in favour of David Forde during the last international break, Westwood had said: “I love it at Sunderland, but if I’m not going to play . . . It’s a tough decision, but I need to play football, I think that’s evident in itself. A lot of stuff can happen over the off-season. I just want to play football.
“I’m looking forward to the future, if I’m honest. It’s been a frustrating 12 months or so, so I’m looking to come out of the dark times and into some good ones.”