LIVERPOOL look to have won the race to sign Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet – and he could complete a £10m move to Anfield within days.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has made the Belgian stopper one of his top targets of the summer but faced potential competition from Arsenal who are also involved in a summer of rebuilding.
Liverpool are looking to do their transfer business early this summer and made an opening bid of £6.5m.
Sunderland rejected that offer out of hand for a player who was pivotal in keeping the club in the Premier League last season but the Reds have not been dissuaded and have tabled several improved offers, rising to £8m early this week.
Yesterday, the Merseysiders were prepared to go to £9m but Sunderland are holding out for a fee in excess of £10m for a player Steve Bruce paid £2m for three years ago this week.
Now it looks like Liverpool have accepted Sunderland’s valuation.
And with the Reds prepared to pay a fee which the Black Cats’ believe approaches the keeper’s market value, Mignolet appears on his way to Anfield.
Arsenal could always step in with an 11th hour bid but their are no immediate signs on an intervention from the Emirates and, that being the case, the deal to take Mignolet to Liverpool is on.
The club’s hottest property has been the subject of intense speculation since the end of the season and talks on an extension to his contract at the Stadium of Light, which still has two years to run, had stalled as the player and his agents consider their options.
Mignolet’s chief agent, Guy Vandersmissen, said earlier this month that the keeper would not ask for a move but that the ball was firmly in Sunderland’s court.
“There is a contract so we have to respect the contract, but I don’t think at this moment we would be prepared to sign a new contract,” commented Vandersmissen.
“There is another two years on his contract, if they want us to stick to that, we will stick to that and perhaps leave after two years if there is an interest in Simon.”
Sunderland though would not want the 25-year-old, whose reputation grew by the month in the Premier League last season, to leave on a Bosman in a couple of years time.
And it will be hard for the Black Cats to reject a particularly big offer which would give Paolo Di Canio room for manoeuvre under the financial fair play restrictions and allow him to strengthen other areas of the team.
Mignolet’s exit could see top-quality understudy, Republic of Ireland keeper Keiren Westwood, promoted to No1, with England Under-19 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as his deputy.
Mignolet has been happy at the Stadium of Light since joining the club from St Truiden three years this week.
But he is desperate to oust Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtis as Belgian No1 before next year’s World Cup finals and knows that a good move would improve his chances.