SUNDERLAND’S chances of landing Nicklas Bendtner on a permanent deal have suffered a blow after the Danish striker admitted he wants to play Champions League football.
Bendtner has made an immediate impact at the Stadium of Light since arriving on a season-long loan from Arsenal, with two goals in seven games for the Black Cats.
But Sunderland were always facing an uphill battle to land the 23-year-old on a permanent transfer next summer due to his lucrative deal at the Emirates.
Bendtner is thought to be earning about £60,000-a-week basic salary with the Gunners, plus tens of thousands in add-ons for appearance and goal bonuses.
Now the financial hurdles have been further complicated by Bendtner claiming he wants to play European football again after making 30 appearances in the Champions League for the Gunners.
He insists that will not affect his commitment to Sunderland, though, with the former Birmingham loanee enjoying regular first-team football at the Stadium of Light.
“I want to play Champions League, let me put it that way,” Bendtner told the Danish press.
“Of course I can do that with Sunderland, but that means we have to put our skates on.
“I had lots of offers this summer, but I chose Sunderland. There was some things that were more important at that time.
“Right now, what’s best for me at Sunderland is football, football and football. It’s all about playing some games.”
Bendtner’s words will not necessarily be a setback for Steve Bruce, with the Sunderland boss realistic enough to admit it was always a long shot to land the striker permanently.
But if Bendtner moves to pastures new, it will be the second successive summer when Sunderland have lost a pivotal on-loan frontman, after Danny Welbeck used his year on Wearside as a springboard to force his way into the Manchester United side.
Unlike Welbeck, Bendtner is not expected to return to his parent club, with the hitman reiterating his desire to leave Arsenal.
Instead, Bendtner will put himself in the shop window during both his loan at Sunderland and in next summer’s European Championships, after helping Denmark top their qualification group.
“As I’ve said before, I’m not going back to Arsenal,” he added.
“I never really got the chance there and I was unlucky with some injuries, but now I’m hopefully going to play a good season at Sunderland.
“With a fantastic Euro 2012 ahead, it looks good.”