Mathieu Debuchy is facing a choice between Premier League basement boys Sunderland and Aston Villa to keep his Euro 2016 hopes alive.
Sunderland have made a late move to pip Villa to the signing of Arsenal defender Debuchy, with Sam Allardyce still eager to strengthen his right-back options, as he has been throughout the January transfer window.
Debuchy is keen to leave the Emirates to play regular first-team football and secure a place in the France squad for the summer’s European Championships, and Arsenal will not stand in the ex-Newcastle United man’s way.
But Sunderland will need to pip Villa to Debuchy’s signing after new boss Remi Garde has been pursuing his fellow Frenchman throughout the transfer window.
Despite Sunderland’s interest emerging, it is understood that Villa remain keen to sign Debuchy, although he is not the main priority in the last few days of the window for Garde.
Villa want another striker and goalkeeper to spearhead their slim chances of remaining in the Premier League, with ex-Sunderland loanee Alan Hutton and Leandro Bacuna already options at right-back.
Sunderland have three right-back options available in the squad themselves, but the Black Cats have explored the possibility of terminating DeAndre Yedlin’s loan deal early in this window, while Adam Matthews could move to the Championship before next week’s deadline.
Allardyce has seen two approaches for Lorient’s right-back Lamine Gassama turned down by the Senegal international, who was unwilling to join a relegation-threatened club, despite his contract in France due to expire this summer.
But the Sunderland boss has been on the look-out for players who need to find a new club for the remainder of this season, to ensure they don’t miss out on the Euro’s.
Debuchy - who joined Arsenal in a £12million move from Newcastle 18 months ago - is firmly in that category after the 30-year-old has fallen behind Hector Bellerin in the pecking order and hasn’t made a first-team appearance since November.
“Whatever happens, even if it is to return (to Arsenal) this summer and then start again, I have to go this winter. I cannot stay at Arsenal,” he said earlier this month.
“As the weeks go by, we get closer to the Euros. I have to play to try to return as soon as March for the Netherlands and Russia friendlies.
“I clearly lost six months. I would have preferred to leave last summer but the coach told me that I would have my chance. Ultimately, it was not the case.”