SUNDERLAND will not look to hijack Aston Villa’s move for Charles N’Zogbia, with Steve Bruce resigned to missing out on the French winger.
Villa yesterday agreed a £9.5m deal with Wigan for N’Zogbia, who is due to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical before the end of the week.
Ex-Newcastle man N’Zogbia is understood to have preferred a return to the North East, either to the Magpies or Sunderland.
But Wigan’s asking price and the 25-year-old’s wage demands have seen both clubs pull out of the running for his signature.
The Black Cats are not in a position to make a late bid for N’Zogbia and Bruce will be forced to watch as the player he took from Newcastle to Wigan moves on.
N’Zogbia turned down the chance to work with Villa boss Alex McLeish last summer, when the winger couldn’t agree terms with the-then Birmingham boss.
The player could still reject Villa’s advances and opt to leave Wigan on a Bosman in 12 months time. But with a bumper five-year offer on the table, N’Zogbia looks set to move to Villa Park.
Sunderland have not made a bid for N’Zogbia all summer, despite the France international being one of Bruce’s principle targets since becoming Black Cats boss two years ago.
N’Zogbia thought he would be on his way to Wearside at the end of the season, particularly after Sunderland were flush with cash following the sale of Jordan Henderson.
But Sunderland were taken aback when they were informed from N’Zogbia’s camp that the player would require wages of £65,000 a week – rather than the £40,000 they had originally been expecting to pay.
Such a salary would have smash Sunderland’s wage structure and the club were not willing to contemplate it.
After bringing in nine new players over the summer, boss Bruce doesn’t have that sort of money to spend on a transfer fee either.
Bruce has been told he needs to offload the likes of Nyron Nosworthy, Matt Kilgallon, George McCartney and Marcos Angeleri before Sunderland re-enter the transfer market.
And although Bruce concedes Sunderland are still lacking a natural left winger, he is unlikely to recruit any more fresh faces before the end of August.
Bruce has no replacement for N’Zogbia in mind, despite Sunderland being linked with Leeds wide man Max Gradel.
The 23-year-old has been touted to several Premier League clubs by his agent and although he would offer Sunderland some much-needed pace, he is naturally right-footed.
Meanwhile, Sunderland have announced keeper Craig Gordon will keep the number one shirt next season.
The Black Cats have released a select few of their squad numbers, with Gordon handed one, Simon Mignolet staying at 22 and new signing Keiren Westwood given the number 20 shirt.