SUNDERLAND’S transfer plans suffered a double set-back yesterday after Benjamin Mendy agred to join Marseille and Gino Peruzzi’s representatives called a halt to negotiations over a proposed move to the Stadium of Light.
The two young full-backs are hugely rated and it looked last week that Sunderland might stealthily acquire both after moving quickly when the transfer window officially opened.
Le Havre left-back Mendy is among the most highly-regarded young players in France while Velez Sarsfield’s Peruzzi is also tipped for the very highest level.
But after coming to the Stadium of Light last week and appearing to be close to signing a deal, Mendy’s head was turned by late interest from Champions League side Marseille.
Mendy could hardly be blamed for fancying a move to a team playing at the highest level and also one in the 18-year-old’s homeland – it meant instantly moving up towards Champions League competition and the teenager staying in his native country.
The sticking point was whether Marseille would match Sunderland’s offer which had been accepted by Le Havre.
Initially, it looked as though Marseille might look to get the youngster on the cheap, something Le Havre flatly refused to countenance.
Had there been uncertainty, Sunderland were ready to go back with an improved offer to Le Havre and improved personal terms for the defender.
But Marseille appear to have matched Le Havre’s valuation and Mendy’s mind seems firmly made up that he wants to stay on home soil.
A statement published in France confirmed: “Marseille and Le Havre have reached an agreement in principle for the transfer of Benjamin Mendy.”
The France youth international posted on his Twitter account: “Hello Twitter, I am officially Marseillais.”
News then emerged that Sunderland’s pursuit of Velez Sarsfield’s Peruzzi had also hit the buffers, with the 21-year-old seemingly walking away from a move to the Stadium of Light on personal terms.
Sunderland are believed to have agreed a fee in the region of £5m for the Argentine but the player’s advisers are not satisfied with the offer so far.
Velez’s vice-president Julio Baldomar revealed: “It’s the first time that something like this has happened to us.
“The player and his agent have said that what Sunderland offered him isn’t enough. This has given us several problems.
“We got to an arrangement from club to club very fast. We arranged the amount of the transfer and everything was okay between Velez and Sunderland.
“But, suddenly, the player and his agent have said that what has been offered as a contract to Peruzzi isn’t enough.
“This situation is something really weird. Usually, when a proposal arrives from Europe, the player is the first person interested in having the transfer done.
“And, even in this case, when an offer has arrived from English football, the player should be really interested.
“But, if he says that what he would receive isn’t enough, we can’t do anything about that.
“But it’s weird because what the player will receive for the transfer is a lot of money as he will receive 15 per cent of what Sunderland pays to Velez.
“We will see what happens in the next hours because if Peruzzi finally doesn’t get transferred that gives Velez lots of problems.”
Although the Mendy move seems done, dusted and over for Sunderland, the Peruzzi deal is not dead in the water.
And with Mendy gone, Sunderland will redouble their efforts to sign the South American.