SIR Alex Ferguson’s insistence that Danny Welbeck will remain at Manchester United next season could spell the end of Sunderland’s hopes of further acquisitions.
Welbeck is one of the names on the slender list of Steve Bruce’s targets, who the Sunderland manager would like to bring to the Stadium of Light to add to the summer’s nine fresh acquisitions.
But Ferguson appears to have scotched Sunderland’s chances of another season-long loan for the England striker after publicly insisting the 20-year-old will remain at Old Trafford next season.
With Welbeck set to stay with the Premier League champions and long-term target Charles N’Zogbia pricing himself out of a move to Wearside, Bruce is now braced to stick with the players already at his disposal.
Sunderland have not lined up another left winger as an alternative to Aston Villa target N’Zogbia, while Stephane Sessegnon’s ability to play in the hole behind the striker lessens the need to recruit another frontman.
The Black Cats will maintain their interest in Welbeck in the hope that Ferguson has a change of heart, although he made his intentions clear during United’s pre-season tour of America yesterday.
Ferguson said: “They won’t go on loan again (Welbeck and midfielder Tom Cleverley).
“Going on loan only serves one purpose; keeping them happy by playing all the time.
“At their ages, it wouldn’t do us any good because other clubs would be benefiting from what we could be benefiting from.
“Because of the experience they have had, keeping them now benefits us.
“Welbeck is an England international now. He is an exceptional talent.”
N’Zogbia remains keen to be reunited with ex-Wigan boss Bruce and close pal Titus Bramble.
But Sunderland were flabbergasted by N’Zogbia’s £65,000-a-week wage demands, which far exceeded the sum the Black Cats had been led to believe the left-winger was originally asking for.
Regardless of needing to agree a fee with Wigan, Sunderland will not counter paying N’Zogbia such a salary and smashing their wage structure in the process.
Wigan’s price tag of £10million – £1m more than Aston Villa’s unsuccessful bid last week – also prevents N’Zogbia moving to the Stadium of Light, with Bruce needing to offload the deadwood before any other signings are even considered.
Despite reports linking Matt Kilgallon with Birmingham City, the Echo understands there has been no contact with Sunderland, although there has been an enquiry from the Blues about left-back George McCartney.
Neither Kilgallon, McCartney or Nyron Nosworthy are with Sunderland’s party in Germany and there is nothing imminent to end any of the trio’s tenures on Wearside.
Meanwhile, Sunderland officials have laughed off Ferguson’s comments concerning the club’s conduct in their pursuit of United midfielder Darron Gibson.
Sunderland’s £6m move for Gibson stalled over the Irishman’s wage demands.
But Ferguson claimed yesterday that Sunderland had altered their offer for the 23-year-old during the negotiations – something the Black Cats fiercely deny.
“Darron was on the point of going to Sunderland and somewhere along the line I think Sunderland moved the goalposts,” he said.
“I suppose their job is to try to save money. From what I can gather, they gave Darron an offer and then changed it.
“That annoyed Darron and I think he’s quite right. If you can’t trust them on day one, then why wait until day two?”
Bruce has not spoken to Ferguson about his comments, but has not been particularly perturbed by his mentor’s accusations.
“I know Sir Alex is away at present and, with the time difference etc, I haven’t had a chance to catch up with him,” said Bruce. “But once he’s back, I’m sure we’ll have a chat and clear things up.”