Sunderland are facing a lengthy legal case over Ricky Alvarez after Inter Milan initiated an appeal with FIFA.
Alvarez arrived at the Stadium of Light on a season-long loan last summer with a clause built into the deal for Sunderland to sign him on a permanent basis for £7.5million if they avoided relegation from the Premier League.
Sunderland are arguing that Inter breached the contract by their delays in agreeing to the surgery
But as reported by the Echo, Sunderland believe they can get out of the obligation due to Alvarez facing several months on the sidelines for surgery on the troublesome knee problem which brought a premature end to his injury-hit campaign with the Black Cats.
Sunderland are arguing that Inter breached the contract by their delays in agreeing to the surgery.
However, Inter believe Alvarez is now, by rights, a Sunderland player and have begun arbitration proceedings with FIFA, who will eventually decide on the Argentine international’s future.
That is unlikely to be a hasty process though, with Alvarez - who would not be fit to play anyway - left in limbo.
Inter chief operating officer Marco Fassone said: ”We have appealed to FIFA as Sunderland had a deal with a redemption clause in the case of avoiding relegation and have not respected it.
“We have called for the agreement to be respected and also for damages for their behaviour.”
Meanwhile, reports in France have linked Sunderland with a£7m bid for Stade Rennes winger Paul-Georges Ntep.
One of Sunderland’s priorities this summer is to bring in a new left winger and Ntep, 22, has been tracked by French pair Monaco and PSG.
However, Sunderland’s focus is on agreeing a fee for Dynamo Kiev’s Jeremain Lens, who worked under Dick Advocaat at PSV.
Similarly, that is likely to rule out Tottenham’s Andros Townsend, who has again been linked with Sunderland.