Roberge’s Sunderland future depends on new arrivals

Sunderland's Valentin Roberge brings down West Bromwich Albion's Victor Anichebe.
Sunderland's Valentin Roberge brings down West Bromwich Albion's Victor Anichebe.
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VALENTIN ROBERGE will only leave the Stadium of Light before Monday’s deadline, if Sunderland are not left short at the back.

Reports in France yesterday indicated Ligue 1 side Stade de Reims were in talks to sign Roberge, who is not fit for today’s Premier League encounter at QPR.

The Echo understands that there is genuine interest from Reims and they have made an enquiry with Sunderland for the 27-year-old.

But they are yet to make a concrete offer for Roberge, with the nature of any potential bid likely to decide if Sunderland part company with the Frenchman.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is looking to strengthen, rather than weaken, his options in central defence before the end of the window, with the Black Cats linked to both Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and Atletico Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld this week.

If Roberge departed, Poyet would have only five defenders remaining in his first-team squad, with Reims needing to make a sufficiently hefty bid for Sunderland to finance a move for a replacement.

However, if the French outfit do make an attractive offer, then Sunderland are not averse to selling a player who has struggled to convince he can cope with the physicality of the Premier League since arriving on a three-year deal last summer.

Cabral and Modibo Diakite were also signed on free transfers 12 months ago and they are closer to the exit door than Roberge.

There have been reports in Italy that Sunderland have agreed to cancel Diakite’s contract, although it is understood that the Black Cats are looking at simply transferring the former Lazio man, who has 10 clubs vying for his signature.

Cabral is also near to sealing his Sunderland exit, leaving Danny Graham as the only player surplus to requirements at the club.

Graham was handed a squad number by Poyet at the start of the season and featured for the Under-21s in a friendly against Celtic yesterday.

But he is still expected to leave the Stadium of Light by Monday’s 11pm deadline, with several Championship clubs interested in the striker, although Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday have both ruled themselves out of the running this week.