LOUIS SAHA is ready to cut short his stint at Sunderland, with an unnamed South African club prepared to offer him an escape route.
The former Manchester United has grown disillusioned at being handed a bit-part role at the Stadium of Light after arriving on a one-year deal last summer.
Saha has not started a Premier League game for the Black Cats and was only handed a spot on the bench for the first time in seven games for last night’s FA Cup third round replay with Bolton.
Sunderland have agreed to cancel the remainder of the French striker’s contract and he is free to speak to other clubs from today, with a South African outfit already expressing an interest in the 34-year-old.
But Saha will not be forced out of the door immediately and Martin O’Neill could well keep him at the club until the end of the month to give himself time to land a replacement, with Swansea’s Danny Graham at the top of his wish-list.
O’Neill told the Echo: “As of today, we have told Louis is free to speak to other clubs and to leave if he can fix himself up somewhere.
“We have come to an agreement whereby we will cancel the remainder of his contract, shake hands and go our separate ways.
“That said, we are still a bit short in terms of numbers and Louis may stay with us until the end of the month until such time as – hopefully – we have strengthened the squad a little more.
“But we agreed that he could go as early as today, if he wishes to.
“I have heard that there is some interest in South Africa for Louis and it might be of some interest to him.”
Saha was only signed as a stop-gap measure during the summer, to provide cover up front and also pass on his experience to rookie Sunderland frontmen Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won.
But O’Neill admits Saha has been disappointed both with his lack of playing time and his impact when he has got onto the field.
“I wasn’t expecting him to be starting 20 Premier League games on the trot or anything like that,” said O’Neill.
“But I think he’s been disappointed.
“In fairness, I think he’s been disappointed when he’s come onto the field. I think he feels he might have been making a bigger impact.
“He’s had a chat to me and I understand that.
“He maybe thought that he might have been involved once or twice more in games and I’ve chosen not to.
“This man has had a really good career and he didn’t want to be a bit-part in things.”
Ex-Newcastle frontman Saha, who was released by Spurs in the summer, was considering hanging up his boots before O’Neill persuaded him to return to the North East.
And if Saha’s potential move to South Africa falls through, that may be an option again.