SUNDERLAND’S asking price is likely to determine whether Fiorentina make a permanent move for Modibo Diakite this summer, according to the defender’s agent.
Diakite has made nine Serie A starts for Fiorentina after joining the Italian side on loan in the January window, following an unconvincing first six months at Sunderland.
Sunderland will look to push through the 27-year-old’s exit this summer, with the centre-half not thought to be part of Gus Poyet’s plans after making just eight first-team appearances, following his Bosman capture 12 months ago.
With two years left to run on Diakite’s lucrative contract, Sunderland are keen to remove the Frenchman’s wages from the books, while there is also the possibility that he could be used as a make-weight in a permanent deal for on-loan Fiorentina left-back Marcos Alonso.
Spaniard Alonso impressed after arriving at the Stadium of Light in January and Poyet is keen to keep hold of the former Bolton man.
But ahead of the Italian season drawing to a close this weekend, Diakite’s agent, Ulisse Savani, says the former Lazio man’s chances of remaining at Fiorentina could come down to whether Sunderland are willing to let him leave for a minimal fee.
“In January, we could have chosen a different team, but we wanted Fiorentina,” Savini told the Italian press.
“Therefore, we waited until the last moment for the Viola to come calling.
“If it were down to Diakite, he would stay with the Viola with his eyes closed. He gets on very well with both the coach and his team-mates, and Florence is a city that he likes very much.
“It depends how highly Sunderland will value him. If they want to treat him as a possible starter he will come at a cost.
“But if they treat him like he is surplus to requirements he will command a much lower fee.”
Diakite’s departure – coupled with the possible exit of countryman Valentin Roberge – will mark an overhaul of Sunderland’s central defensive ranks this summer, with out-of-contract Carlos Cuellar already leaving.
Poyet wants to convert Argentina international Santiago Vergini’s loan into a permanent switch.
But the Uruguayan is likely to want one more centre-half, particularly with veterans John O’Shea and Wes Brown about to enter the final year of their Sunderland contracts.
Reports in Italy have linked Sunderland with a move for out-of-contract Wisla Krakow defender Gordan Bunoza, who has been a target for Palermo.
Meanwhile, the Black Cats have also been credited with an interest in Aston Villa winger Marc Albrighton, whose contract comes to an end next month.
Reports have suggested that Sunderland are interested in the former England Under-21 international, while both Everton and Leicester have also been mooted as keeping tabs on the Villa academy product.
Villa are still hopeful of keeping Albrighton though, with boss Paul Lambert insisting last month that discussions had taken place with the player’s agent over a new contract.