Sunderland appear to be on the verge of signing Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson, while face a battle to secure the signings of fellow ‘Red Devils’ John O’Shea and Wes Brown to join the club.
The Black Cats wasted no time after the departure wake of Jordan Henderson’s move to Liverpool by pacing a £12m bid for the trio, which has been accepted by United.
United themselves are keen to rebuild in the wake of their Champions League defeat to Barcelona last month, after openly speaking about the much expected summer clear out of fringe players at Old Trafford, as United look at building a crop of young thirsty fringe players that can learn off the vast amount of experience on their books. And Sir Alex Ferguson would immediately recoup most of the £16m he hopes to pay for Blackburn Rovers’ star centre-half Phil Jones, if the deal for the three goes through.
But while agreement has been reached between the two clubs on the transfer fees to be paid, a lot of work remains to be done in talks with the players, with Gibson’s move looking to be the easiest to complete. The midfielder has been unable to sustain his early impressive form and after a patchy couple of seasons at Old Trafford which have seen him come in for some tough criticism from Manchester United fans, he would welcome a move away from the club if the move was right. A move to a upwardly mobile Sunderland who finished 10th in the Premier League would appeal.
Getting O’Shea and Brown to the Stadium of Light will not be so easy, though. Both players are internationals who will see themselves as natural Champions League standard players after a decade spent at Old Trafford. O’Shea, 30, and Brown, 31, are reaching the veteran stage of their careers but will feel they still have plenty to contribute.
Their ambitions might still lie with a top four side and certainly a top eight outfit and Sunderland have their work cut out in pushing those deals over the line. If the moves do go through it will certainly soften the blow of Henderson’s departure. While Gibson is not of the standard required to take Manchester United forward, he would be an asset to Sunderland. But it is O’Shea and Brown who could really boost Sunderland, not only injecting genuine quality and strength into Sunderland’s back line but also bringing versatility – both players are equally as happy at centre-half or full-back.
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