STEPHANE Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari should both be Sunderland players by the end of the January transfer window.
Deals for the pair have moved significantly closer this week as Sunderland have worked hard to strengthen their squad with a battle for a European place to come.
The Black Cats’ interest in PSG playmaker Sessegnon and Inter Milan midfielder Muntari was first revealed in the Echo earlier this month but the club’s pursuit of both players on loan deals has been overshadowed since the weekend by the dramatic events surrounding Darren Bent’s departure.
Bent’s move to Villa in an £18m deal, rising to £24m, has focused attention on Sunderland’s need to strengthen their options up front, with record signing Asamoah Gyan currently Sunderland’s only fit forward.
The Echo revealed yesterday that Aston Villa’s John Carew, Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd and Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller head a list of potential targets Sunderland are looking at to bolster their options up front, ahead of looking to bring in a replacement for Bent in the summer.
But in the background, Sunderland have continued to work hard on their overseas loan deals and progress has been made.
Sessegnon’s situation last week was that he was refusing to play or train with PSG – an escalation of his stance since falling out with the club’s coach – but the club refused to sanction a move and insisted the player would stay until at least the end of the season.
Muntari, meanwhile, had handed in a transfer request at Inter which the club had yet to consider.
Since then though, events have moved on and although neither move has been officially sanctioned, Sunderland remain in productive talks with both clubs.
The first battles have already been won – both Sessegnon and Muntari want to come to Sunderland.
Sessegnon has already been over to the Stadium of Light and is excited about the prospect of the move. And reports that Muntari would only consider coming to a London club are not true.
Now, Sunderland are working at board-to-board level with the French and Italian clubs and the prospects of a move have been agreed in principle.
If Paris St Germain let Sessegnon go, they want it to be a permanent move.
Sunderland remain hopeful of making it a loan deal but are seriously considering meeting PSG’s £5m asking price, although the money may be paid over in the summer rather than now.
The Black Cats would prefer to take both players on loan with an option to buy in the close season – that way, if the moves didn’t work out, they could return the players to their parent clubs.
But if Sunderland were to buy Sessegnon and the 26-year-old Benin international’s move did not work out, there would be no shortage of takers if the Black Cats decided to move him on.
The likelihood is though, that Muntari on loan and Sessegnon, either on loan or on a permanent, will go through next week and both will be in red and white stripes to help Sunderland’s bid to finish the season strongly.