SUNDERLAND target Seb Larsson confirmed his exit from Birmingham City yesterday.
Larsson was one of six players released by the relegated Blues, including Sunderland goalscoring legend Kevin Phillips.
While the move is unlikely to affect Sunderland’s chances of signing the Swedish international, it has confirmed that Larsson will be a free agent this summer.
Larsson is one of three Bosmans Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is targeting and he knows the 25-year-old well after taking him to Birmingham from Arsenal.
It was highly unlikely Larsson would have stayed at Birmingham, regardless of whether they stayed up or if they offered him a lucrative new deal.
But Sunderland can now up their pursuit of the Scandinavian, safe in the knowledge he will be moving on to pastures new.
Sunderland’s challenge now is to prevail in the intense race for his signature, with Newcastle and Blackburn again in for the player after failed bids in January.
Larsson is intent on maximising his future salary, particularly after his wages were relatively low by Premier League standards at Birmingham and Sunderland will have to be prepared to pay handsomely for the player.
Meanwhile, former Black Cats striker Phillips must now decide where to play next season.
There will be no shortage of interest in the Championship for the wily 37-year-old, though, with Phillips keen to extend his playing career for at least another year.