STEED Malbranque has signalled his determination to see out the final year of his contract at Sunderland – dashing any hopes the club might have of moving the midfielder on in the current transfer window.
The midfielder – along with fellow Roy Keane signings Craig Gordon, Anton Ferdinand and George McCartney – is believed to be a player Sunderland would listen to offers for.
Malbranque, Gordon and Ferdinand are all in the last year of their deals with no signs of new talks beginning and the club would listen to offers for the high-earners who look set to move on for nothing in a year’s time.
Malbranque has been linked with Fulham and QPR this summer but, speaking from Sunderland’s pre-season training camp in Germany, said: “I am very happy at Sunderland – I do not want to leave this club.
“I want to stay and fight for my place, I have no interest in leaving and I would like to stay longer if possible,” he said.
“The club has moved forward in every year that I have been here and we have done it again. With the new players that we have at club we can target European football next year.
“The club keeps progressing every year and I like that – I want to be part of it and I want to be part of Sunderland’s future. I have never asked to leave and I won’t.” With Sunderland unlikely to be able to make the sales they would like in order to give them half a chance of signing Wigan’s wantaway winger Charles N’Zogbia, the way could be clear for Malbranque to make the left-wing berth his own next season.
But the Belgian – who has scored only one league goal for the club in the three seasons he has been at the Stadium of Light – says he would like a crack at the role of playing behind the front man.
It was a job he did well on the rare occasions he was asked to help play his part in coping with the club’s striker shortage last season.
And he confirmed: “My preferred position is to play in behind the one striker or as part of two strikers. Of course, I will play on the left or the right of midfield too.
“I will play anywhere going forward but it is up to the manager to make the decision on whether I will start in games or not. I hope to play a run of games and no matter where I play, I will give my best for the team.
“I will give the most I can – I want to start scoring goals too.”