SUNDERLAND’S Simon Mignolet is on the verge of a £12m move to Liverpool this weekend after the two clubs finally agreed a deal yesterday.
On a day of dramatic developments in the transfer saga, a breakthrough was made which satisfied both sides with Sunderland agreeing to accept slightly less than their £10m asking price but brokering a deal which could see the final fee rise to nearly £12m with add-ons.
Now Mignolet and his representatives will enter into talks with the Merseyside club over the next few days and the Belgian will undergo a medical.
But neither that, nor personal terms, are expected to be an issue after the two clubs made progress on the transfer fee.
That agreement broke the deadlock which had existed since last weekend when the Echo first revealed the Belgian stopper was on the brink of a £10m to the Merseysiders.
Days before that, the Echo had revealed that Mignolet and his representatives had stalled on an extension to the keeper’s contract at the Stadium of Light.
And though he had two years still remaining on his deal, that fact spurred Liverpool on to dramatically up an initial £6.5m offer to £8m in a bid to beat off expected interest from Arsenal.
Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre postponed a business trip to Brazil last weekend in order to push the deal through but the two sides were stuck for days with Sunderland unprepared to budge from their minimum £10m figure.
Yesterday afternoon though the impasse was broken when the Black Cats accepted the slightly lesser sum for the prospect of earning more in the long run.
Mignolet’s representatives remained unaware yesterday evening that agreement had been reached between the two clubs.
But now they will go into full swing and the move is expected to be done before the end of next week.
The loss of the club’s Player of the Season will sadden Sunderland fans who have been thrilled by the Belgian’s heroics between the posts and there is no doubt that he was the player most responsible last season for keeping the club in the Premier League.
Ideally, Sunderland would have hung on to the 25-year-old as the club progressed.
But with the Black Cats finishing fourth bottom last season and Mignolet eager to catch the eye of the Belgian international manager, Sunderland appreciate that the keeper might feel his interests were better served at a higher profile, more successful club.
For their part, Sunderland have a ready-made deputy in the wings in the shape of Republic of Ireland Keiren Westwood and will regard £10m as a great return on a player Steve Bruce paid St Truidenn £2m for, three years ago this month.
Looking ahead, the move will also give the club significant funds to restructure the team within the restrictive framework of the new financial fair play regulations.
But inevitably there will still be a sense of wistfulness among supporters who will appreciate that whatever the fee, the club has lost a player of rare quality.