JIMMY Montgomery says if Simon Mignolet leaves Sunderland, the Belgian can go with a clean conscience – knowing he did his bit for the Black Cats.
The Belgian is the subject of an aggressive bid from Liverpool who are determined to land the 24-year-old this week and seem certain to get their man.
Reds managing director Ian Ayre cancelled a business trip to Brazil at the weekend in the belief that the deal can be finalised this week.
But while Montgomery would love to see Mignolet stay at the Stadium of Light, he says Sunderland fans cannot reproach the young stopper if he moves.
“I don’t want Simon to go,” the club’s leading appearance-maker told the Echo.
“I think he’s a tremendous talent who is only going to get better and I’d love to see him playing for Sunderland for many years to come.
“But if he does go, I hope Sunderland fans will say ‘good luck to the lad’ because I don’t think anyone could have done more to keep Sunderland up last season than he did.
“Supporters voted him Player of the Season by a distance and I’d agree with them.
“Goalkeepers can’t get you three points – not unless they score a penalty or go up for a late corner, I suppose – but what they can do is earn you a point by keeping a clean sheet.
“And few keepers kept more clean sheets in the Premier League last season than Simon.
“It’s a team game of course, but there’s many a game Sunderland would have lost had he not made one or two truly outstanding saves.
“In my view, he saved us plenty of points over the course of the season and that was probably the main reason we stayed up.
“If he does go, then he leaves a legacy of Sunderland still being in the Premier League and for that, he deserves our gratitude.”
Liverpool have kept on coming back to Sunderland after an initial offer of £6.5million, gradually raising their offer to £8m and now £9m, with Sunderland holding out for £10m and they look set to get it, one way or another, although much will depend on how the deal is structured.
And club legend Monty says it is the way of the world for players to move on in the modern era.
Monty, who was on Sunderland’s books from 1958-77, said: “In my day, it wasn’t that uncommon for players to spend almost their whole careers at the one club.
“But times have changed and it is sad but unrealistic that players regularly move on these days.
“The best chance you have to hold on to players is to be successful and I think that’s the challenge facing Sunderland now.
“Paolo Di Canio is looking to build a new team and good luck to him on that.
“Simon Mignolet kept the old one up and if he does move on, then maybe his transfer fee will help support the create of a new and more successful side than the one which finished fourth bottom last season.”