SULLEY Muntari was in talks with Sunderland today, with a move to Wearside close to being wrapped up.
The Ghana international flew into the North East last night after agreement was reached between Sunderland and Inter Milan over a loan deal until the end of the season with a view to a permanent move in the summer.
Once the terms of the deal were agreed, the Italian club gave the 26-year-old permission to speak to Sunderland and the midfielder caught the first plane over.
This morning he began talks over his personal terms.
Former Portsmouth midfielder Muntari will have to undergo a medical before he signs, but that is not thought to represent a problem.
Muntari left Fratton Park for Inter in 2008 for £14m and became an automatic choice under former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, winning two Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the Fifa World Club Cup.
Mourinho’s departure to Real Madrid last summer saw Rafa Benitez take over at the San Siro but Muntari fell out of favour with him, and his relationship with Benitez’s successor Leonardo appears little better.
The Ghanaian made up his mind to leave this month and handed in a transfer request 12 days ago and though Inter were initially reluctant to sell, they have come around to the idea of allowing a player to leave who has slipped down the pecking order and clearly wants to move on.
If the Muntari move goes smoothly he will become Sunderland’s first signing of the January transfer window – even though PSG midfielder Stephane Sessegnon was in the North East 24 hours earlier than the African.
The Sessegnon move remains in the balance, despite the player’s keeness to be part of Bruce’s plans.
The Benin international has done all in his power to make the move happen – including saying publicly he will never play for Paris St Germain again and refusing to attend training sessions.
But that stance might have been counter-productive as PSG ponder whether or not to let him go.
Coach Antoine Kombouare – with whom Sessegnon had the row which first sparked the player’s desire to leave – would prefer the club cut its losses and moved the midfielder on to Sunderland.
But PSG president, Robin Leproux has been angered by the way Sessegnon has conducted himself and is tempted to hold on to the player until the summer before selling him.
Sunderland have advanced a long way from their original positon of purely wanting to take the player on loan.
Now, they have agreed to make the move a permanent one this month, if it ensures the gifted midfielder is playing in the red and white of Sunderland next month.
There is little that chairman Niall Quinn and his negotiating team can do about the internal politics of PSG. But the Black Cats remain hopeful that having worked so hard on both deals, Muntari’s move will be agreed by the end of the day and Sessegnon’s will follow over the weekend.