SANTIAGO VERGINI’S Sunderland future is expected to become clearer this week.
Vergini proved to be the surprise package during Sunderland’s remarkable final six games after looking far more comfortable in a right-back role.
The 25-year-old had initially looked a bag of nerves at centre-half when he arrived on loan from Argentine side Estudiantes in the January transfer window, yet the turnaround in his form is expected to see Sunderland make his stay permanent this summer.
A clause was built into the loan to convert it into a permanent switch and it is thought Vergini could be available for as little as £500,000 from Atletico Fenix, who loaned him to Estudiantes at the start of the season.
But while Gus Poyet has indicated his eagerness to keep hold of Vergini, the Argentine international’s camp are yet to hear from the Black Cats.
That situation is expected to change in the coming days though, with Poyet returning from his holiday in the Middle East this week.
With Poyet scheduled to hold a second round of talks with Sunderland chairman Ellis Short before the weekend, the picture over the eight out-of-contract and five loan players on the club’s books should be clarified.
Sources close to Vergini are confident that a deal will go through though and progress will be made on the transfer in the next few days.
Keeping Vergini’s fellow Argentine, Oscar Ustari, on Wearside may prove to be far tougher for Poyet.
The Sunderland boss has been hugely impressed by Ustari’s attitude and performances in training and would like to keep hold of the 27-year-old, albeit there are not thought to have been any contract talks yet.
But Ustari, who only penned a six-month deal with Sunderland in January, is concerned about being limited to a back-up role to first-choice stopper Vito Mannone after he has been restricted to three FA Cup games for the Black Cats.
Ustari is eager to play first-team football and, with Italian giants Lazio rumoured to be interested, Poyet may face an uphill battle to persuade the former Almeria man to remain at the Stadium of Light.
If Ustari does depart, Poyet will be eager to land a replacement back-up for Mannone, with academy product Jordan Pickford the only other keeper on the club’s books with any Football League experience.
Former Manchester United keeper Tomaz Kuszczak could be a possibility after Sunderland were linked with the Polish international last month.
Poyet took Kuszczak to Brighton two years ago, but the 32-year-old was released by the Seagulls last week after their defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals.