SIMON MIGNOLET says a summer on the Continent will help him ignore the barrage of speculation over his future.
It took a stunning late strike from Gareth Bale to beat Sunderland’s stand-out player of the campaign at White Hart Lane yesterday, as the 10-man Black Cats succumbed to a 1-0 defeat on the final day of what has been a miserable season.
Mignolet has been Sunderland’s one consistent throughout 2012-13 and that has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Napoli all keeping tabs on the Belgian stopper.
The 24-year-old has never expressed any desire to leave the Stadium of Light and Sunderland are in no hurry to part company with their prize asset.
But Mignolet accepts that one of the side effects of his impressive form will be a raft of close-season stories about potential suitors luring him away from Sunderland.
He hopes, though, that with Belgium travelling to the USA for an international friendly next week, followed by a World Cup qualifier against Serbia a week later, his time outside the country will shield him from the speculation.
Mignolet told the Echo: “I’ll be going away with Belgium first of all and I’ll focus on that.
“Afterwards, I’m abroad, so I’m not going to really read the English newspapers.
“So I won’t get carried away by the speculation. I’ll keep my feet on the ground.
“When you’re playing well, there will be stories written about you.
“During the off-season, there’s only one thing to write about, that’s transfers, not football any more.
“If your name’s going to be linked, that’s how life is.”
Bale’s 89th-minute strike denied Mignolet what would have been a 12th clean sheet of the season – one more than he managed in 2011-12.
And although Mignolet was able to admire the quality of Bale’s goal, he was rueful that a depleted Sunderland side were not able to finish the campaign on a high note.
“It’s always disappointing to concede the goal – it doesn’t matter what manner it’s been scored,” he said.
“You want to keep a clean sheet.
“I think everything went well until the 89th minute, so it’s disappointing to concede so late in the game.
“That was going to be my 12th clean sheet of the season, but Bale decided to do otherwise.
“I think the lads who were there were up for their task and did their jobs.
“They did their best to play a good game and we had chances. If Connor’s (Wickham) strike had gone in, it’s a totally different picture.
“But, unfortunately, Gareth Bale scored the goal in the end.”