Sunderland’s cash boost as Ji looks to secure German deal

Ji Dong-won
Ji Dong-won
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JI DONG-WON does not want to come back to Sunderland and is on the verge of a big-money move to the Bundesliga.

The South Korean international spent the second half of last season on loan to German side Augsburg after failing to make a single first team appearance for Sunderland in the opening half of the 2012-13 campaign.

And the 22-year-old striker now wants to make the switch to the continent permanent, with Sunderland set to grant him his wish and get an unexpected windfall in the process.

The Black Cats signed Ji from Chunnam Dragons in June, 2011, for £2m, but despite his failure to flourish in the Premier League, Sunderland look ready to make at least DOUBLE that fee and possibly more when he leaves.

The Sunderland misfit has established a good reputation in Germany on the back of helping Augsburg engineer an escape from relegation which looked unlikely when he arrived in January with the club propping up the league.

Augsburg won seven and drew three of the 17 games he played in and that was enough to lift them out of the drop zone.

He scored five goals during that spell with his side winning every game in which he found the back of the net.

That has led Augsburg to look into the prospect of signing the Asian forward permanently.

But they have already admitted that his market value has risen and they are unlikely to be able to afford him.

A host of German clubs have now expressed an interest in a forward who made only two Premier League starts for Sunderland (17 substitute appearances) since moving to Wearside two years ago.

And involved in the chase, in what will be a surprise to many Sunderland fans, are leading German side Borussia Dortmund – runners-up in the Bundesliga and Champions League!

Ji believes his career derailed at Sunderland and is now getting back on track.

But rather than looking at giving the South Korean another chance next season, the Black Cats will be happy to cash in on a player who scored a memorable late goal for Sunderland to beat Manchester City 1-0 on New Year’s Day last year, but achieved precious little else.

Ji signed a three-year deal with Sunderland on the back of notching six goals in 11 international appearances, including four at the 2011 Asian Cup.

But now that he is coming to the final year of his contract – like Sunderland team-mate David Vaughan – Sunderland have to make a decision on whether to offer him a new contract or risk losing him for nothing (other than compensation) when his contract expires next season.

A new contract for such a marginal player at Sunderland is a non-starter.

And with the prospect of Ji moving on for £4m-plus – and there has been speculation of £6m-£7m if a bidding war develops – Sunderland will cash in.