Sunderland will discover whether they have to fork out £8million for a player they do not own in the new year.
A hearing to determine the outcome of Sunderland’s ongoing battle with Inter Milan over former loanee Ricky Alvarez was heard on Friday.
The two clubs have been at loggerheads for more than a year and the Black Cats could be forced to shell out £8million for a player they do not own if the case goes against them.
The case was listed on Friday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
But the Echo understands a final decision will take a number of weeks and the club is expected to learn their fate in early 2017.
Should Sunderland lose the case, it would put a significant dent in the club’s already limited coffers.
Although, the Echo understands money has already been set aside in case of the worst case scenario.
The hefty €10million transfer fee was originally agreed in Alvarez’s season-long loan switch to the Stadium of Light.
The fee became compulsory if the Black Cats were able to retain their Premier League status in 2014-15, which they successfully managed under Dick Advocaat.
Sunderland argued that Inter’s hesitation in approving knee surgery for the Argentine international was a breach of contract and justified them pulling out of the move.
In the 2014-15 campaign, Alvarez made a total of 17 appearances for the Black Cats, scoring one goal during his short spell on Wearside.
He made only five Premier League starts.
The dispute over his permanent transfer left the Argentinian midfielder in limbo, with neither Sunderland or Inter Milan wanting Alvarez back.
After a short spell without playing football, he was allowed to join Sampdoria on a short-term deal in January with special dispensation while his long-term future was decided.
The 28-year-old then signed for Sampdoria in the summer as a free agent and has since made 12 appearances for the Italian side, scoring one goal.
* Sunderland AFC’s Under-18 side face Burton Albion in the third round of the FA Youth Cup this week.
The Young Black Cats host the Brewers on Thursday, December 15 (kick-off 7pm) at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, in Hetton.
Entry to the game is by cash on the night with tickets priced at £3 for adults and £1 for over 65s and under 16s.