DAVID Vaughan wrapped up his free transfer move to Sunderland today although it will not necessarily spell the end of their pursuit of Darren Gibson.
But the chances of the Black Cats landing a trio of Manchester United players are now remote, with Gibson pricing himself out of a move to the Stadium of Light.
Free agent Vaughan became the club’s ninth summer signing this morning after agreeing a three-year deal following talks at the Academy of Light yesterday.
It lessens the pressure on Sunderland to sign fellow midfielder Gibson, with the Black Cats baulking at the Republic of Ireland international’s wage demands which would see him more than double his Old Trafford salary.
Instead, the Black Cats have made a “take it or leave it” offer to Gibson which remains on the table.
But he will have to backtrack significantly if he is to join ex-United team-mates Wes Brown and John O’Shea on Wearside after the defensive duo completed their moves yesterday.
And with Stoke City reportedly entering the race for Gibson, the chances of the 23-year-old completing a £6million move are receding.
Likewise, Stuttgart striker Pavel Pogrebnyak will not be moving to Sunderland due to the Russian’s excessive wage demands.
The capture of Vaughan, Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner has given Steve Bruce a wealth of midfield options anyway and the Sunderland boss will feel he now has sufficient options in the centre of the park.
Bruce said: “David was excellent throughout last season, including both games against us, so it’s only natural that he caught the attention of a number of top clubs.
“We’re delighted that he sees his future at Sunderland. His experience, grit and energy in midfield will be a valuable asset to us and we’re now looking forward to him joining up with the squad for pre-season training.”
The 28-year-old Welsh international had been to West Brom earlier in the week for discussions, but opted for Sunderland after his contract at Blackpool came to an end last season.
The focus for Bruce now will be on trying to trim his squad before any other incoming signings.
Sunderland continue to listen to offers for George McCartney, Nyron Nosworthy, Matt Kilgallon and Marcos Angeleri with the quartet potentially saving a significant chunk off the wage bill.
McCartney, Nosworthy and Kilgallon all returned to pre-season training on Wednesday, while Angeleri will be back in the North East next week after being given extra time off following his international exertions for Argentina in the summer.
Ideally, Sunderland would like to offload the players on a permanent basis, although they would be prepared to send them out on loan as McCartney, Nosworthy and Kilgallon were last season to Leeds, Sheffield United and Doncaster respectively.
There has been interest in the quartet already though and Bruce will now look to make the same rapid progress as he has done with his recruitment drive.
Doubts will also be raised over the futures of Craig Gordon, Anton Ferdinand and Steed Malbranque with all three within the final 12 months of their contracts.
Sunderland are not actively looking to sell the trio, although they will inevitably be tempted if a suitable offer is received.