Rennes happy for Ola Toivonen to join Sunderland permanently

Ola Toivonen in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa. Picture by FRANK REID
Ola Toivonen in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa. Picture by FRANK REID

French side Rennes will not stand in Ola Toivonen’s way if Sunderland attempt to convert the midfielder’s loan deal into a permanent switch.

Toivonen was one of three players who arrived at the Stadium of Light on season-long loans during the transfer window, but, unlike fellow midfielder Yann M’Vila, there was no clause inserted in the deal for a permanent move next summer.

Sunderland are purely covering Toivonen’s salary – which is around the £25,000 a week mark – during his year on Wearside after Rennes were keen to get the Swedish international off the wage bill.

Ideally, Rennes had been looking to sell Toivonen this summer, yet with both Greek side PAOK Salonika and Sunderland both only interested in a loan, it was the latter’s willingness to cover all of his wages which led the Ligue 1 outfit to sanction a move to the Stadium of Light.

Rennes’ position will not change next summer, when they will again attempt to offload Toivonen – probably for a fee around the £2million mark – as he approaches the final 12 months of his contract.

Toivonen is understood to be prepared to leave Rennes on a permanent basis after 18 months in France, and indicated as much during an interview in his native Sweden last week.

“I’m due to go back to Rennes after the loan, but perhaps I will stay at Sunderland,” he said.

“It is a thought you have in your head.

“But it is too early to talk about that. We have agreed a deal for a year and then we will see how it goes.

“I’ll try to help to keep Sunderland in the Premier League.”

Certainly, there were flashes from Toivonen on his Sunderland debut prior to the international break after he came off the bench to make Jeremain Lens’ equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Aston Villa.

Dick Advocaat stressed afterwards that Toivonen was still short on match fitness though after just one substitute’s outing for Rennes prior to joining the Black Cats.

However, Toivonen’s conditioning was improved by 45 minutes for Sweden in their Euro 2016 qualifying defeat against Russia on Saturday, and he is in contention to feature in tomorrow’s visit of Austria.

Toivonen and fellow Swede Seb Larsson will then return to Wearside to prepare for Sunday’s Premier League clash at home to Tottenham.