SUNDERLAND will look to offload Modibo Diakite this summer, despite the setback of Fiorentina deciding against signing the big defender on a permanent basis.
The imposing centre-half spent the second half of last season on loan to the Serie A outfit, who had the option to sign him full-time at the end of the campaign.
The 27-year-old made nine appearances for the Italian club in what proved to be a successful season for La Viola, who finished fourth in the table and qualified for next season’s Europa League.
Fiorentina, though, have decided to pass on the chance to permanently sign the former Lazio centre-half and the 6ft 2in Frenchman is now set to return to Sunderland for pre-season.
The player’s agent, Ulisse Savini, said: “Diakite will definitely return to Sunderland after his loan.
“At the moment, I have no news from Fiorentina or from other clubs, so we are preparing to face the next season with the Black Cats.”
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet, however, will not be looking to re-integrate Diakite into the squad and the club will continue to explore the player’s options away from the Stadium of Light – either on loan or permanent.
Diakite was a player that former manager Paolo Di Canio and director of football Roberto De Fanti had high hopes for when they brokered his move to Wearside last summer.
The defender had a reputation for being injury-prone but a class act when fully fit.
And Sunderland took a punt on him having an injury-free run and becoming the rock on which Di Canio could base his defence.
Diakite missed the Black Cats’ opening game last season with a niggle but was brought straight back into the side for the games against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.
He played in Di Canio’s last game in charge, September’s 3-0 defeat at West Brom, but quickly fell out of the first-team picture upon Poyet’s arrival.
And although he was involved briefly in the busy festive period, he was offloaded to Fiorentina when the January transfer window opened.
Diakite is one of a number of players sent out on loan last season – including Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham and Cabral – that Poyet has made his mind up over and will not seek to include in the Black Cats’ long-term plans.
Sunderland’s head coach is focused on a major overhaul of his squad and has already signed Billy Jones from West Brom and Jordi Gomez from Wigan.
But he also fully understands that a major part of his job will be unloading the many players that have become surplus to requirements since his arrival at the club.