GUS POYET says it is too soon to suggest Emanuele Giaccherini will return to his native Italy in the summer, despite interest from Serie A pair Genoa and Fiorentina.
Reports in Giaccherini’s homeland have suggested there is interest from several quarters in the 28-year-old, who has struggled to make an impression at the Stadium of Light since Sunderland splashed out more than £6.5million for his services last summer.
With Giaccherini expected to depart if Sunderland are relegated from the Premier League, Genoa are mooted to be keeping tabs on the Italy international’s situation, while Fiorentina – who tried to sign the widemen when he was at Juventus – are also interested.
Giaccherini’s lucrative salary at Sunderland, plus his price tag – as the Black Cats look to recoup their investment – could prove to be barriers, yet a return to Italy certainly looks to be the most likely scenario for him.
But with Sunderland still boasting an outside chance of remaining in the Premier League, head coach Poyet insists it is premature to be talking about Giaccherini’s potential departure.
He told the Echo: “It’s too soon to be talking about that because nobody knows really.
“I’m surprised they’re talking about it so early, because the season isn’t finished.”
Nevertheless, Giaccherini’s increasingly fringe role in Poyet’s plans makes it seem probable that he will depart in the summer.
When Poyet first arrived at the Stadium of Light, the Sunderland boss talked of Giaccherini playing a key role in introducing some much-needed creativity in the final third.
But he has started just one Premier League game since New Year’s Day – last month’s defeat at Liverpool – and hasn’t even been included on the bench for Sunderland’s last two games against West Ham and Tottenham.
Poyet simply claimed that Giaccherini was one of the players to miss out, as he tried to find the right balance among Sunderland’s substitutes.
“When I planned the team (for West Ham and Spurs) I changed the bench a little bit,” he said.
“Normally, I would always put on a couple of strikers, couple of midfielders, a full-back and a centre-back – depending on the shape. But I think it’s time to take a risk.
“We’re trying to make the bench in a certain way and sometimes we have three strikers on there.”