No Mensah Sunderland move yet

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JOHN Mensah has rubbished weekend claims that Sunderland had agreed a £1m deal to convert his loan from Lyon into a permanent move.

The Ghana captain’s future remains up in the air as he nears the end of his second season-long loan at the Stadium of Light with the centre-half desperate to extend his stay on Wearside further.

But stories emnating from France that he had already signed a cut-price £1m move from his parent club are untrue.

The 28-year-old defender confirmed: “I was surprised when I saw it on the net.

“As far as I am concerned, there haven’t been any negotiations regarding my price.”

A clause in Mensah’s loan deal this season meant that his temporary stay at Sunderland would automatically become permanent if he played 25 games for the Black Cats in the 2010-11 campaign,

But injuries have restricted him to just 17 outings so far and – with only two games to go – he will not reach the required.

That does not necessarily mean Sunderland fans won’t see him in the red and white stripes next season and Mensah’s agent Fabien Pivateau certainly believes his client still has a chance of staying at Sunderland.

Pivateau said: “Even through Mensah has not played the 25 games to secure him a permanent deal, all that I know is that he is a Steve Bruce favourite and the manager likes his style.

“There is a probability that Mensah will stay as Sunderland are ready to hold talks with me and Lyon after the end of the season.”

Working in Mensah’s favour is the fact that Lyon missed out on Champions League qualification this season and are keen to cut costs ahead of next season.

A cut-price £1m deal for a player they paid originally paid £7m for, would appeal to them.

Sunderland’s board though would undoubtedly question the wisdom of spending £1m transfer, plus the associated wages, on a player who would expect a longer term contract and would have doubtful resale value beause of his injury record.

Even so, there are likely to be a few more twists on the way before the situation is resolved.

Bruce continues to rate Mensah highly and the most likely outcome is that the club will look into the prospects of a third year-long loan spell at the Stadium of Light.

Although the African’s injury record and the consequent need to juggle team selection around him, has been a concern for the manager, Bruce has raised the question of where else could he get a £7m quality defender on loan terms.

If Sunderland could get Mensah back for a third spell – even if he was only involved in half the games again – Bruce would regard that as money well spent.