SUNDERLAND striker Nacho Scocco has dropped strong hints he favours a return to South America after failing to cut it in the English Premier League.
The 29-year-old Argentinian endured an unsatisfying few months in English football after Black Cats’ boss Gus Poyet signed him in the January transfer window for £3m.
And the signs are that the striker might not want to stick around and see if he can become a success at Sunderland next season.
Speaking to reporters in Argentina, Scocco already appeared to be planning for a return home and talked of the club closest to his heart - Newell’s Old Boys, the club he scored 24 goals for in 32 appearances in the 2012-13 campaign.
And it appears that the forward sees the only barrier to a swift return being the amount of money Sunderland paid out for him and which be beyond clubs in his homeland.
“If you ask me, I’ll obviously tell you that I want to play for Newell’s,” he is quoted as saying.
“Newell’s will always be first in my priorities but this time I can’t move a finger to helps Newell´s in a possible negotiation.
“I can only give my opinion if you ask me where I want to go.
“There are things that bother me, for example when I walk through the streets of Rosario and people come to me and say “remember you said that in Argentina you will only play for Newell’s?
“What I am saying is that provided there is a possibility to go to Newell’s, then they will have priority, but if there are no possibilities, obviously I will have to look for second choices.”
Scocco’s comments will not impress Poyet, who has spoken previously of his belief that a good pre-season will see the best of a forward he rates highly.
But the striker seems intent on wangling a return home after a spell at Sunderland which saw him feature only eight times for the club - six times in the Premier League and twice in the FA Cup - without managing to score.
He added: “People ask me what I’m going to do and I don’t know to answer them.
“What people should know is that it does not depend on me.
“Sunderland paid money, but to me does not serve me to play there because I don’t have continuity and it doesn’t serve the club because you have a player who does not play and is not comfortable.
“We are still awaiting a response from the management of Sunderland, so I’ll have to be patient.
“There are possible deals in Argentina and elsewhere but I am calm, I have a contract there and can do pre-season.
“We must see what Sunderland ask for me and then see if Newell´s can afford it - I don’t want to put pressure on the club to pay money that it does not have.”
Scocco was one of five January signings made by Poyet and the most expensive.
The Sunderland head coach believed that the Argentinian would supply magic and creativity both in setting up and scoring goals and saw the striker as a key part of his escape plan from the danger of relegation.
But Scocco was innocuous in almost all of his appearances.
He joined in the South American close season, so clearly had to work on his fitness and sharpness but even in April and May he was producing little of note and struggling to force his way into the team.
Poyet told the Echo at the end of the season that he thought Scocco would be a different prospect after a full pre-season behind him and he might still stick to that line, keeping hold of the Argentinian for one more season at least.
But the likelihood now is that Sunderland will look to offload him after the player spoke openly about a return to Argentina.
Scocco’s comments suggest he clearly felt he was ready to start games for Sunderland but wasn’t being called upon.
And Poyet will not be impressed by a stance which suggests complacency or arrogance on the player’s part.
Rather than looking to buckle under and try to make a success of his time in English football - a position Italian Emmanuele Giaccherini has adopted for example - Scocco seems to have decided that he has had enough.
And that attitude in itself might see Poyet decide to cut his losses, get rid of Scocco and go in search of a fresher, keener, more effective striker.