Former Sunderland keeper Mignolet relishes Liverpool challenge

Simon Mignolet. Picture courtesy of Liverpool FC.
Simon Mignolet. Picture courtesy of Liverpool FC.
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SIMON MIGNOLET admits he had little hesitation in bringing the curtain down on his Sunderland career to join Liverpool.

Mignolet has returned to his native Belgium after tying up his £11million switch to Anfield on Monday night, to become the second Black Cats player to sign for Liverpool in three years.

Speculation on the 24-year-old’s future has been rife since last season drew to a close, with Liverpool joined by Arsenal, Manchester United and Napoli in tracking the stopper.

When it became clear that Mignolet was unlikely to pen a new deal at the Stadium of Light, as revealed by the Echo earlier this month, it drastically increased the prospects of Sunderland cashing in on their prize asset.

Mignolet says he tried to shield himself from the transfer merry-go-round surrounding his signature and left his future in the hands of his agents.

But once it became clear that Liverpool had made a concrete bid for his services, the former St Truiden stopper jumped at the prospect of moving to Merseyside.

“My agents were working on things and I was still a Sunderland player so they did not really tell me a lot,” said Mignolet.

“But once I heard they were interested in signing me, I knew I would go.

“I can’t wait to get going now.

“It is a challenge obviously, but that is what you want.

“I want to play in big games, in front of a big crowd, with pressure.”

Mignolet’s international prospects were a key factor behind his decision to move to one of the Premier League’s heavyweights after losing his starting spot following the appointment of Marc Wilmots as Belgium boss last year.

With a rich crop of talent, Belgium have dominated in World Cup qualifying Group A and are close to sealing their spot at next summer’s tournament in Brazil.

Mignolet wants to be there and pip Atletico Madrid’s on-loan Chelsea stopper Thibault Courtois to the starting jersey.

“We have to win three more games to qualify for the World Cup, in Brazil,” added Mignolet.

“As a footballer, you want to play on the big stage and the World Cup is definitely that.

“We have got a good team at the moment, so let’s hope we can qualify and get some good results in Brazil.”

Meanwhile, QPR keeper Julio Cesar is rumoured to be interesting Sunderland as a possible replacement for Mignolet.

Reports in Italy have suggested Sunderland have shown a late interest in Cesar, who had been on the verge of joining Roma.

The 33-year-old’s lucrative salary at relegated QPR, estimated to be in excess of £80,000 a week, would be far in excess of anything Sunderland were willing to pay though.

And with Keiren Westwood offering an established replacement for Mignolet, Sunderland remain likely to boost their goalkeeping ranks with a young stopper from the Continent.