Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys could take another South American off Sunderland’s hands by making a move for Santiago Vergini.
Sunderland are duty-bound to sign Vergini in a £2million permanent deal this summer after the defender made more than 20 appearances during a loan spell from Costa Rican outfit Sport Uruguay de Coronado last season.
But while former Sunderland boss Gus Poyet was a big fan of Vergini and was behind the Argentine international’s return to Wearside last summer, there are question marks over whether successor Dick Advocaat is quite so keen.
Advocaat dropped Vergini after Sunderland’s April capitulation against Crystal Palace and he featured from the bench just once during the final five games.
But Newell’s – who signed Sunderland flop Nacho Scocco 12 months ago – are thought to be prepared to offer Vergini an exit route back to his homeland and re-sign the 26-year-old for a second spell at the club,
That would either be through buying out the permanent clause from Coronado or simply signing him direct from Sunderland.
Vergini’s former Newell’s team-mate Lucas Bernardi has just been named the Rosario-based club’s new manager and they are understood to have met up in Argentina over recent weeks, prior to that appointment.
The stumbling block to any deal is whether Newell’s can raise sufficient funds to sign Vergini, with sources in Argentina suggesting the club are operating on a severely limited budget.
However, the two clubs did manage to reach an agreement last summer, when Sunderland were able to offload Scocco after his miserable four-month spell at the Stadium of Light.
Certainly, Vergini faces a far more limited role under Advocaat than Poyet, with the one-year contract extension handed to Wes Brown further hinting towards the Argentine’s exit from Wearside.
Sunderland remain in the market for two new centre-halves this summer to complement veteran pair Brown and John O’Shea, with Liverpool’s Uruguayan Sebastian Coates and Celtic’s Dutch star Virgil van Dijk at the top of Sunderland’s shortlist.
And that leaves little room for Vergini, despite his ability to operate at either right-back or centre-back.