Sunderland believe that the lengthy injury lay-off facing Ricky Alvarez can see them pull out of a permanent deal for the Inter Milan midfielder.
Alvarez arrived at the Stadium of Light last summer on a season-long loan with a view to a £7.5million transfer, if Sunderland were able to retain their Premier League status.
It is understood that he now requires surgery on the injury, which could see him sidelined for several months
But the Argentine’s loan spell was riddled by problems with his knee and saw him limited to just five Premier League starts -– the last of which was Gus Poyet’s final game in charge against Aston Villa, in March.
Alvarez has been on the treatment table ever since and it is understood that he now requires surgery on the injury, which could see him sidelined for several months.
With that lay-off ahead of him, Sunderland will not be keeping Alvarez, even if there is a belief at the Stadium of Light that the 27-year-old’s injuries have robbed Black Cats fans of seeing his genuine quality.
But Inter are adamant that Sunderland must still sign Alvarez permanently and there have been suggestions that they will use FIFA to arbitrate on the transfer if it doesn’t go ahead.
However, Sunderland are confident that the surgery scenario gives them a get-out clause for the deal.
Alvarez’s fellow Argentine, Santiago Vergini, does look likely to stay at Sunderland though.
Vergini returned to Wearside for a second loan spell last summer after Sunderland had baulked at the £5million asking price from his parent club, Costa Rican outfit Sport Uruguay de Coronado.
But there was a clause in Vergini’s loan spell to move to the Stadium of Light permanently if he made more than 20 appearances in red and white.
Sunderland are now duty-bound to sign Vergini, for a fee around the £2m mark, unless another club effectively buys out the permanent clause in his loan deal.
But even if Vergini completes his move, Sunderland will still be in the market for another two centre-halves.
As reported yesterday, Sebastian Coates is likely to be one of that pair, with Sunderland pushing ahead for a permanent move from Liverpool after his contribution during the last half-dozen games.
Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk is among the targets for the second new recruit after Sunderland have been tracking the Dutchman for the past year.