SUNDERLAND are expected to prioritise new signings over converting Ki Sung-Yeung’s loan deal into a permanent switch in the January transfer window.
Ki has emerged as a hugely influential figure since Gus Poyet’s arrival at the Stadium of Light after shining in a holding midfield role.
Head coach Poyet this week described the South Korean as a “key” player, while Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho revealed after his side’s midweek victory on Wearside that he had a specific gameplan for tackling the 24-year-old.
But Ki is only on loan with Sunderland until the end of the season and parent club Swansea could even recall the former Celtic man in January.
Poyet admits that Sunderland’s more pressing concern is to add fresh faces in the January window though, however much the Black Cats would like to keep Ki on Wearside for the long-term.
“There are so many things that I need to look at in January and, for the moment, I have to prioritise,” said Poyet.
“I am looking at certain specialist positions where I am convinced we need to strengthen.
“It’s not that it is not a priority because of Ki, it is not a priority because there are other things we need to deal with first.
“He’s with us for the whole season and I am very happy with him, so we will see what happens.”
Swansea splashed out £6million for Ki in the summer of 2012 and, despite only 18 months remaining on his contract at the Liberty Stadium, the Welsh club would want to recoup much of that outlay if they were to let him depart permanently.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Sunderland’s Premier League status, the Black Cats are likely to be wary of making such a heavy outlay in January.
Likewise, Ki will want to remain in the Premier League after his performances so far this season and the World Cup on the horizon next summer.
Providing Swansea do not recall Ki – which is unlikely given he had fallen down the pecking order under boss Michael Laudrup – it lessens the chances of Sunderland making a move for Brighton’s Liam Bridcutt.
The defensive midfielder has been linked with a reunion with Poyet, ever since the Uruguayan was appointed at the Stadium of Light, yet he operates in the same role as Ki.
Bridcutt this week made no secret of his desire to ply his trade in the Premier League though, after Crystal Palace saw a summer bid of £1.75million rejected by the Seagulls.
“I have always said that I want to be a Premier League player and the only way I am going to do that is by performing,” said Bridcutt.
“It’s going to be even better if I can do it with Brighton, but if there is an opportunity for me to do it with another club it’s going to be hard for me to turn it down.”