SULLEY Muntari’s form, rather than his wage demands, have ended any hopes of his loan move to Sunderland being made permanent.
The Ghanaian’s agent Fabien Piveteau claimed today that the Black Cats cannot afford to sign the Inter Milan midfielder on full-time from next season.
He said: “There is no chance for Sulley. They have decided he is too expensive.”
But the Echo understands that despite Sunderland needing to smash their wage structure in order to land the 26-year-old, the club would have done so had the African displayed the sort of form which made him such a success in his one season at Portsmouth and in his early days at Inter.
Chairman Niall Quinn and chief executive Steve Walton had been in the early stages of financial planning for the possibility of manager Steve Bruce wanting Muntari to be signed permanently in the summer and the club would have looked at both the hefty transfer fee and equally as hefty wages if Bruce had identified Muntari as one of the key players to take Sunderland forward next season.
But the Ghanaian has not impressed in his eight games since arriving on loan until the end of the season in January.
And with rumours circulating that the midfielder has not shown the right attitude since joining the club, it’s not a major surprise that Sunderland will not be pursuing his signature when the season ends.
The same agent who represents Muntari also represents John Mensah and Piveteau believes that the Ghanaian captain could be back on Wearside for a third loan spell in the 2011-12 campaign.
He said: “For John there is a good chance. The situation with him is that if he played 25 games he would definitely sign for Sunderland but he has only played 18 at the moment.
“He has not played all of the games but it has been a different type of injury this season for John.”
Piveteau believes that with Mensah’s injuries not being of the sort that have so limited his involvement with parent club Lyon and his two spells at the Stadium of Light, there’s a chance that Sunderland will not see a third loan spell as such a high risk.
But both Pivetau and Mensah could be disappointed as Bruce and the board sit down over the next few weeks to thrash out the way forward in the transfer market.
Bruce remains a major fan of Mensah, who is undoubtedly a top class defender when fit. But the board will be more concerned about 28-year-old’s frequent breakdowns.
And they are likely to question the value of a player who, despite his ability, regularly forces the manager to reshuffle the defence depending upon his availability.
Both Mensah and Muntari are likely to start this weekend’s game at Bolton Wanderers and regardless of their futures, Sunderland will expect complete commitment from the two players.
Though the Black Cats are not mathematically safe, there looks to be little danger of them being dragged into the bottom three over the course of the next three games.
But Bruce is desperate for the team to give the fans something to cheer about in the dying days of the season and he also knows that finishing just a few places higher up the table could significantly swell his transfer budget this summer.