EMANUELE GIACCHERINI insists he has moved on from his World Cup heartache and is ready to be a bigger influence for Sunderland in the new season – if the Black Cats choose to keep him.
Giaccherini was culled from Italy’s final World Cup squad, despite being a regular in the qualifying campaign on the way to Brazil.
But the 29-year-old harbours no grudges towards ex-Italy boss Cesare Prandelli and is now putting all his efforts into enjoying a successful second season at the Stadium of Light.
Giaccherini netted five goals for the Black Cats after arriving in a £6.5million move from Juventus 12 months ago, yet started just 16 Premier League games – prompting speculation throughout the summer over his future.
But the midfielder feels he will be better for the experience of a year on Wearside and hopes to prove that in the coming campaign, unless Sunderland have other ideas.
Giaccherini told the Echo: “Yes, the World Cup was very disappointing.
“But Mr Prandelli choose 23 players and, for me, I’m always grateful for him because he brought me into the national team in the first place.
“I always thank him for that, no problem.
“But I obviously wasn’t happy.
“Now I just think about the Premier League. The World Cup is gone. My concentration is on Sunderland.
“Last year is gone now. I got five goals and five assists. I didn’t play every game, but when I did, it was OK.
“I think I can get better this year. I’ve experienced the first year and I saw the league, the players and the stadiums.
“I want to stay at Sunderland. Obviously, if Sunderland don’t want me, we will see.
“But my intention is to stay here.”
Sunderland’s current focus is on bolstering the squad, rather than depleting it further, with fresh faces still needed, despite left-back Patrick van Aanholt becoming the fourth new arrival of the summer last week.
The Black Cats are still waiting on news of Giaccherini’s fellow Italian Fabio Borini after Liverpool accepted a £14million offer more than a week ago, while Atletico Madrid’s Cristian Rodriguez is also on Gus Poyet’s radar.
“Borini, I don’t know, but I hope he comes here. I’m not sure what he wants,” said Giaccherini.
“For me, we need other players in this team because in the Premier League, it is important to have a group with 25 good players.
“We lost a lot of players at the end of last season.
“I just think about playing and Sunderland can think about buying!”
Sunderland will spend a fourth day training in Portugal today, with the Black Cats playing the first of three friendlies in the Algarve against Spanish club Recreativo de Huelva tomorrow night.
And Giaccherini believes the 10-day stint on the Continent is a crucial stage in Sunderland’s preparations for the upcoming campaign.
“We’ve got three games here which will be an important test of our preparations,” he added.
“When we get back, we’re getting close to the start of the season.
“It’s good to get away and get to know the new players. It’s a good experience and an enjoyable one.”