Sunderland’s bid to offload the dead-wood is being hampered by the size of Valentin Roberge’s pay packet.
The Black Cats are in the market for around half-a-dozen fresh faces this summer, yet sporting director Lee Congerton also faces the challenge of shifting those considered surplus to requirements by head coach Dick Advocaat.
There are still several signings from ex-director of football Roberto De Fant’s reign on the club’s books, despite successor Congerton getting rid of the likes of Modibo Diakite, Cabral, David Moberg Karlsson and Jozy Altidore during his year at the helm.
Charis Mavrias, El Hadji-Ba and Roberge will all return to the Academy of Light for the start of pre-season training, but it is the latter which is the biggest drain on the club’s resources.
Roberge, who has started just eight Premier League games in red and white, was handed a big-money deal by De Fanti when he arrived on a Bosman deal from Portugese side Maritimo two years ago.
But there are still 12 months remaining on Roberge’s contract and the French defender struggled to put himself in the shop window when he made just 11 appearances for Reims during an injury-hit season-long loan stint with the Ligue 1 outfit last season.
Congerton will have to find a suitor for Roberge though - probably on another loan
Congerton will have to find a suitor for Roberge though – probably on another loan - with minimal prospect of the 28-year-old getting a second chance at Sunderland under Advocaat. By contrast, there is a suitor for Mavrias, with Panathinaikos keen to keep hold of the winger after he returned to his boyhood club on loan for the second half of last season.
But Panathinaikos are understood to be waiting for a response from Sunderland on their asking price for Mavrias, who is thought to be keen on staying in Greece himself.
Sunderland are eager to part company with Mavrias after pro-actively looking for a new club for the 21-year-old in the January window, but they would face a huge loss if they sold him to Panathinaikos.
De Fanti shelled out £2m to bring Mavrias to Wearside two years ago, but Panathinaikos budget would not stretch into seven figures, while they would look to pay Sunderland in instalments, depending on their success in European competitions next season.
Ba still has an outside chance of featuring for Sunderland, despite suffering a broken leg during his season-long loan stint with French side Bastia.
But if Sunderland do receive a suitable offer for the midfielder, then he will be another to leave the club.