SUNDERLAND’S hopes of signing Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari hang in the balance today, with the parent clubs of both players having the final say on whether loan deals will be sanctioned.
The Black Cats have made significant progress in persuading both Benin international skipper Sessegnon and Ghana midfielder Muntari to move to the Stadium of Light in the current transfer window.
But Paris St Germain are reluctant to part with their playmaker on loan and Inter Milan have yet to decide whether they want to allow Muntari to leave the San Siro.
Much of the approach work seems to have been done by the players’ agents without too much liaison with their parent clubs and neither side seems happy to let their midfielders go.
In Paris, PSG board member Eric Pecout has poured cold water on the prospect of the sale of a player who had a had public fall-out with club coach Antoine Kombouare.
Pecout said of Sessegnon: “He still has his ideas but the club has not changed its position, because we do not want to let him go.
“We’ll see in February if he wants to return to the squad – we would be very happy with this.”
The Echo understands that PSG would prefer to sell the player permanently in the summer, if his row with the coach is not resolved, and do not see much benefit in a loan move to Sunderland.
Similarly at Inter Milan, the Italian giants have the final say on whether Muntari will be allowed to join the Black Cats.
They have not ruled the African out of their plans and had not been actively seeking a loan. Now they have to consider whether there’s any appeal for them in a loan move.
Sunderland have acted in good faith throughout but the ball is now in the court of the other two clubs.
What is certain is that both players are happy to come.
Sessegnon has already made a trip over to Sunderland to check out the club and its facilities and is happy to make the move. Muntari was reported in some media sources as only prepared to consider a move to London if he was to return to the Premier League, but those reports are untrue.
Muntari is interested in the Sunderland move and the lure of playing alongside international team-mates Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah is a big one.
Inter may want to hold on to the versatile and skilful Muntari, but he has not been a big part of first-team plans recently and is on huge wages.
Although the Italian club has not pursued the move, the idea of allowing it to happen might still interest them if negotiations prove successful.
Boss Steve Bruce is hopeful that deals can be done for one or both players in the days ahead but says he is relaxed about the outcome.
“We’re interested in them both and we would love to bring them here,” he told the Echo. “I think they would delight our fans and they would certainly improve the squad.
“But if the moves don’t come off, we’ll accept it and move on.
“I said before the window opened that I would only look for us to do business if great opportunities came up – that’s what Sessegnon and Muntari would be.
“But, from our point of view, we should only have a couple more weeks to wait before we have a lot of players back from injury and that is going to give us a strong squad to go into the remainder of the season with.
“We’ve got games against Newcastle and Blackpool before a week’s break and certainly by the beginning of February, we would expect to have Lee Cattermole, Danny Welbeck and John Mensah all back in the fold with Michael Turner on the horizon.
“We will push our interest in both players and hopefully we’ll have success but from next month we should be getting close to full strength again, so it’s not as if we’re desperate.
* Rumoured Sunderland moves for Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam are wide of the mark. The Black Cats will make no attempt to land him this month, with Aston Villa favourites to sign him if the former Rangers man leaves the Seasiders.
* Sunderland were tentatively interested in Aston Villa’s Steve Sidwell, but the midfielder’s desire to be in London scuppered any prospect of progress and the player has since joined Fulham on loan.