SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce is in London today looking to secure a work permit for Sulley Muntari.
Sunderland have already agreed a loan deal with Inter Milan for the Ghana international and are hoping personal terms can be agreed with the midfielder. But first they need to get permission from the authorities for the 26-year-old to play in the Premier League again.
As a non-EU citizen, Muntari needs a permit before he is allowed to join an English club and before approaching the Home Office, Sunderland must have their application approved by the Football Association.
While former Portsmouth star Muntari meets most of the criteria, he has not featured in the required minimum 75 per cent of his country’s competitive fixtures over the last two years and that means Sunderland having to put their case to an FA panel in order to get the endorsement they need to proceed.
Muntari’s lack of competitive action for Ghana is a direct result of a row with former national boss Milovan Rajevac, which saw him miss the 2010 African Cup of Nations and Sunderland need to explain that the reason why he hasn’t met the criteria is nothing to do with his ability.
And the Black Cats are hopeful that once that is explained in full, the FA will give their backing to the move.
The midfielder was granted a work permit in 2007 when Portsmouth signed him from Italian side Udinese, and Sunderland can also make a case for him based on his undoubted ability – he has won two successive Serie A titles and the Champions League with Inter, and helped Ghana reach the quarter-finals of last summer’s World Cup by playing in four of their five games in South Africa.
Bruce said: “We’re hoping we can sort out the paperwork and get Sulley a work permit.
“He is a special player and would be a fantastic asset for us. Don’t forget, two years ago Jose Mourinho paid Portsmouth £15m to take Sulley to Inter, and since then he has won titles, cups and the Champions League.
“He is just what we need.”
To be granted a work permit, besides meeting the international appearances requirement, a player must meet certain financial tests – which will be no problem for a top-level player such as Muntari - and play for a country in the top 70 of FIFA’s world rankings.
World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana are currently ranked 16th by the world governing body.
As well as making the Muntari move permanent, Sunderland are also hoping to push through the transfer of Paris St Germain midfielder Stephane Sessegnon over the weekend.
The Black Cats have agreed a £5.5m fee with PSG but despite reports in France, the deal has not yet gone through as the clubs are still negotiating over exactly how the fee will be paid. Benin international Sessegnon has been granted a work permit.