CHARLES N’ZOGBIA returns from holiday this week, planning to resolve his long-term future by the end of it.
And Steve Bruce hopes that will be good news for Sunderland, as the Black Cats boss looks to make progress on his chief transfer target.
The in-demand Wigan winger is due to sit down with club chairman Dave Whelan over the next few days to discuss his future and consider any bids that the Latics have deemed acceptable.
Wigan would love to hold on to the 25-year-old French international (pictured, below), who has done so much to keep the club in the Premier League since his arrival from Newcastle United in 2009, but have accepted his determination to move to a bigger club.
And they will accept significant transfer funds as well as continuing their policy of removing their highest earners from the wage bill.
Wigan want £12m for N’Zogbia, with both Sunderland and Newcastle United believed to be among several clubs ready to meet that price. But the sticking point is likely to be the midfielder’s insistence that his new wages start at £60,000 a week.
That’s too pricey for both Sunderland and Newcastle as things stand – and officials at St James’s Park already seem to be paving the way to dropping out of the race for their former player.
That is good news for Sunderland – the Black Cats are similarly reluctant to burst their wage structure, but the less competition there is for the player’s signing, the stronger their hand becomes.
N’Zogbia remains Bruce’s major summer target and he is keeping his fingers crossed that chairman Niall Quinn and chief executive Steve Walton will be able to broker a deal.
The Wigan star’s future has been clouded in uncertainty over the last few weeks but the situation should become clearer this week.
Bruce hopes that his relationship with the player will be an advantage, with N’Zogbia crediting the Black Cats boss with his reviving his career at Wigan after a difficult time on Tyneside.
And the good relationships Bruce enjoys with so many of his previous players already appears to have been instrumental in persuading Birmingham City’s Seb Larsson to turn his back on interest from Arsenal and Aston Villa in favour of a move to Wearside.
Larsson, Coventry City’s Keiren Westwood, Manchester United’s Darron Gibson and South Korean striker Ji Dong-won are all set to move to the Stadium of Light this summer with their signings set to be announced before the players return to pre-season training early next month.