SULLEY Muntari has returned to parent club Inter Milan after Sunderland decided against completing a lucrative deal for the midfielder.
Sunderland today confirmed they will not be taking up the option in Muntari’s loan agreement to make the move a permanent one and have allowed him to return to Italy.
Under the terms of the deal, a permanent move would have been automatically triggered if Muntari had made another appearance for the Black Cats.
That would have cost Sunderland a hefty transfer fee while the 26-year-old would have become by far the highest paid player at the club.
Sunderland were not prepared to let that happen and Muntari will not feature in tomorrow’s clash with Wolves or the final day trip to West Ham.
Boss Steve Bruce said: “Sulley has been a great professional in his time here and naturally we’d like to thank him for his contribution to our season and wish him all the best for the future.”
Ironically, Muntari’s last contribution in a Sunderland shirt also proved to be his most valuable as he grabbed a last-gasp winner at Bolton Wanderers last weekend.
That was the goal which secured Sunderland’s top flight status and alone arguably justified his acquisition in the January transfer window.
But Muntari has failed to live up to the lofty expectations which accompanied his arrival.
Bruce genuinely believed that Muntari would be the player who took Sunderland to the next level.
The Ghanaian had won the Champions League and Serie A title at Inter last season while he also lifted the FA Cup during a solitary season at Portsmouth.
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Sunderland were prepared to smash their wage structure to land him permanently while Inter’s willingness to let him leave put the Black Cats in pole position for his signature.
But after impressing on his debut at Stoke, Muntari struggled to exert his authority on games and lacked the same hunger he had shown during his days at Pompey.
He was troubled by calf problems and started just one of the last three games despite Sunderland’s dire injury list.
Meanwhile, Sunderland have been linked with a move for German marksmen Miroslav Klose.
The 32-year-old, who has scored 61 goals in 108 appearances for his country, is out of contract at Bayern Munich at the end of the season and is expected to leave the Allianz Arena.
There is interest in Klose throughout Germany, Spain and the Premier League, where Sunderland are said to be monitoring his situation.
The major stumbling block towards any move would be Klose’s wages of over £100,000 a week.
That would shatter Sunderland’s wage structure and the club’s hierarchy may be reluctant to pay such a lucrative salary to a player in the twilight of his career.
Standard Liege’s Ghanaian full-back Daniel Opare has also been linked with Sunderland.