Adnan Januzaj is thought to be keeping an open mind over joining Sunderland, as the Black Cats eye a double loan deal for the Manchester United man and Fabio Borini.
Sunderland’s interest in re-signing Borini remains at an early stage and he is one of a number of avenues the club are pursuing to boost their attacking options after news emerged yesterday that he was back on the radar.
The Black Cats have spoken with Liverpool, but no agreement has yet been reached with the Merseyside outfit, who are likely to insist on a permanent clause in any season-long loan.
But, as we reported last week, Sunderland are in pole position to sign Januzaj on loan if Manchester United complete a £20million deal for Barcelona’s Pedro, although the 20-year-old himself would need to agree to the move.
Januzaj appeared to pour cold water on his chances of moving to the Stadium of Light yesterday when he cryptically tweeted a one-word message of “rumours” along with an emoji of a face with tears of laughter.
But it is understood that Januzaj is not against the prospect of playing regular Premier League football at Sunderland and is giving serious thought to the proposal to join the Black Cats on a season-long loan.
Van Gaal was asked about Januzaj’s future yesterday, yet while he stressed that the Belgian international is not for sale, he didn’t address the possibility of a loan exit after the Belgium winger was left out of the United squad for last weekend’s Premier League opener.
While Sunderland have spent the last fortnight trying to land Januzaj, they only expressed their interest to Liverpool over Borini this week after learning that Adam Johnson faces a minimum of two months on the sidelines with a dislocated shoulder.
Borini was not among the players Sunderland were targeting at the start of August after the club’s bank account was boosted by the £9m sale of Connor Wickham.
But Johnson’s injury has prompted a U-turn, just as Borini appeared to be on the verge of returning to his homeland with Fiorentina.
Liverpool want to sell Borini, rather than loan him, with another two years to run on his contract, and Sunderland will need to make some kind of commitment to sign the Italian international permanently.
But, after rejecting the chance to join Sunderland in a £14m move last summer, Borini is now thought to have accepted that his Liverpool career is over.
Crucially, Borini remains on good terms with Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton too.
Borini told Congerton 12 months ago that he wanted to fight for his place at Liverpool, yet Gus Poyet refused to take no for an answer and continued to drive Sunderland’s interest in their former loanee.