Sunderland’s kitty boost for Di Canio

NO 1 CHANCE ... for Sunderland's Keiren Westwood.
NO 1 CHANCE ... for Sunderland's Keiren Westwood.
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SUNDERLAND have pledged to re-invest the windfall from the sale of Simon Mignolet after the goalkeeper finalised his move to Liverpool.

Mignolet’s switch to Anfield was confirmed last night, with Sunderland banking what is thought to be an initial £9million fee, that could potentially rise to almost £12m, depending on add-ons to the deal.

That money will be now used to further boost Paolo Di Canio’s transfer kitty, with Sunderland already agreeing Bosman moves for Valentin Roberge, Modibo Diakite and Cabral, as well as having made development signings El-Hadji Ba, Duncan Watmore and David Moberg Karlsson.

Di Canio is eager to make wholesale changes to the squad he inherited from Martin O’Neill and although Sunderland were keen to keep Mignolet, they have opted to cash in on the Belgian, who was not willing to pen a new contract at the Stadium of Light.

AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore is top of Sunderland’s wish-list, but the American international would cost the Black Cats more than £5m after netting 31 goals in 41 appearances last season.

The Echo understands Alkmaar are likely to part company with Altidore if the price is right, but they are under no financial pressure to sell their prize asset.

But the sale of Mignolet hands Sunderland extra financial clout, with Di Canio moving to assure supporters last night that the Black Cats are being active in the transfer market.

“Our aim is to build a competitive squad for the new season and this deal will give us further ability to strengthen the side,” said the head coach.

“I would like to assure our fans that there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes.”

Di Canio added: “Simon is a fantastic footballer, a fantastic professional and a fantastic lad and I would like to personally thank him for his contribution to the team last season.

“He was crucial to what we achieved and he goes with the very best wishes of everyone at the club.”

Sunderland are unlikely to sign a big money replacement for Mignolet, though.

Keiren Westwood, who was limited to just three Capital One Cup appearances for Sunderland last season, is expected to become first-choice after being forced to play second fiddle to Mignolet.

Westwood would almost certainly have left Wearside if Mignolet had remained after being restricted to a bit-part role since arriving from Coventry City two years ago.

But in his 13 appearances for the Black Cats, the Republic of Ireland stopper has proved himself as an adept performer and will now hope to secure regular first-team football both for club and country.

With 19-year-old Jordan Pickford the only other stopper on Sunderland’s books, Di Canio is likely to recruit a young custodian from the Continent as back-up to Westwood.

Reports in Holland have credited Sunderland with an interest in PSV’s Jeroen Zoet after the Wearsiders watched the 22-year-old play for the Dutch Under-21s.

And Heerenveen’s Kristoffer Nordfelt was yesterday linked to Sunderland, with the 24-year-old yet to pen a new contract with the Dutch outfit.

Nordfelt still has another two years remaining on his current deal with Heerenveen, but there is reported to be a release clause of just £2m in the seven-time Swedish international’s agreement.