Double move is end of long pursuit for Sunderland’s Bruce

Stephane Sessegnon
Stephane Sessegnon
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THE double capture of Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari brings to an end a testing month-long pursuit for Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.

Muntari and Sessegnon signed within hours of each other on Saturday afternoon to hand Bruce a major boost heading into tonight’s transfer deadline.

Since the loss to injury of Danny Welbeck, David Meyler and Lee Cattermole at the turn of the year, Bruce has been keen to boost Sunderland’s ranks for the second half of the campaign with a couple of loan acquisitions.

With Sunderland already boasting the maximum two domestic loan players, Bruce was forced to turn to the foreign market and had to be patient in his hunt for the two midfielders.

Sessegnon looked around Sunderland’s facilities three weeks ago and after a fall-out with Paris St Germain coach Antoine Kombouare, he looked set for a swift move to the Stadium of Light.

The 26-year-old refused to play or train under Kombouare’s reign despite earning himself severe fines from the club.

But PSG were unwilling to let the Benin international leave the club on loan and Sessegnon returned to training in a bid to find a way forward.

Bruce decided the former Le Mans player was worth investing in on a permanent deal and had hoped to have him in place by the time Sunderland headed to Blackpool nine days ago.

But it took time for the two clubs to agree a £6m deal with Sessegnon finally holding talks in the North East last week.

Sessegnon, who is in line to make his debut against Chelsea tomorrow, said: “I am very happy and glad to be here. The transfer has been long and the execution has been tough.

“I can’t wait to start in the Premier League. It has been my dream for years.

“The Premier League is the best league to play in, I have always wanted to play here.

“Sunderland was the place I wanted to be even though there were other teams interested.”

Bruce added: “I’m delighted to bring Stephane here. He’s a player that I’m sure will really appeal to Sunderland fans.

“He has proven he is a huge talent during his time in France.

“He is lightning quick and his ability to slot in right across the attacking positions – whether he operates in behind or alongside a striker or on either flank, makes him a great addition to what is a young and hungry squad.”

Sessegnon’s decision to quit the Parc des Princes, where he spent two-and-a-half years and attracted the attention of Manchester United and Chelsea, has not gone down well with ex-coach Kombouare though.

Kombouare said: “He is a professional footballer and he failed to turn up to training.

“Basically, he wanted to do whatever he wanted.”

Muntari has been similarly out-of-favour at Inter Milan since the departure of former manager Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid last summer.

The ex-Portsmouth midfielder had been an integral part of the side which won back-to-back league titles and the Champions League after moving from Fratton Park in a £15m deal.

But the 26-year-old had increasingly become a fringe player and it always seemed likely that Inter would let him leave on a loan deal.

Sunderland was the likeliest location despite interest from elsewhere with fellow Ghanaians John Mensah and Asamoah Gyan helping to sell the club to Muntari.

The problem was agreeing what percentage of Muntari’s wages Sunderland would pay with the ex-Udinese man on big money at the San Siro.

That hurdle was eventually cleared although Muntari returned to Italy today to iron out visa issues and will not be available for tomorrow’s game.

Bruce said: “Sulley is a fabulous acquisition for the club. When the opportunity arises to bring in a player of his ability – even in the short term, you have to take it and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to.

“His adaptability is a great asset. He did extremely well at Portsmouth so he knows the Barclays Premier League well and you have to be some player to move to Inter Milan for the fee that he did. He’s a great addition.”