Sunderland’s search for a new goalkeeper will continue after Julian Speroni signed a new Crystal Palace contract.
Gustavo Poyet had targeted the Argentinian – a close friend – after releasing Keiren Westwood and Oscar Ustari at the end of last season.
It leaves Vito Mannone as Sunderland’s only senior goalkeeper, although they showed their faith in Washington-born England Under-19 international Jordan Pickford by handing him a new four-year contract at the start of the month.
Speroni was Palace’s player of last season and kept a clean sheet at the Stadium of Light in March. After the game Poyet and Speroni embraced on the pitch.
Speroni said afterwards: “Gus is a good friend of mine. We met as players and then bumped into each other at a few charity events and just hit it off.
“We’ve always kept in touch and talk all the time. He’s a great person with a lovely family.”
However, yesterday Speroni claimed he always wanted to stay with the South London club and Poyet’s – and Leicester City’s – interest in the player may have helped him earn a better contract.
Speroni’s extension is for 12 months. He added: “I’ve been saying for months and months this was always my first choice. A return for Ustari, who played in the FA Cup for the Black Cats during his six-month deal could also be a possibility, although his preference is for first-team football.
Pickford could yet be promoted but, with no first-team experience beyond League One, that would represent something of a gamble were Mannone to get injured.
Pickford’s only senior appearances have come with Darlington, Alfreton Town, Burton Albion and Carlisle United.
Ashley Williams could be another to benefit from Sunderland’s interest, the defender’s agent Jamie Moralee adamant he wants to stay at Swansea City.
He said: “A bid has come in from Sunderland, but I have no control over who bids for my players and neither has the player.
“It’s up to Swansea to make him an offer because he doesn’t want to leave. Just because a club has put a bid in that’s not to say Ash wants to leave — that’s far from the truth.”