After arriving at Sunderland from Arsenal in 2013, Vito Mannone became somewhat of a cult hero on Wearside in his four years at the club.
The Italian only initially signed a two-year deal with the Black Cats but ending up staying for double that length of time, and in his debut campaign he was named the club’s Player of the Year.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though for Mannone as the following season saw him relegated eventually to being a number two to Costel Pantilimon, and then in his final year at the Stadium of Light Jordan Pickford overtook him in the pecking order.
Quiz: Have Sunderland signed a player from each of these 20 clubs in the last 5 seasons?
Nevertheless though Mannone held a strong rapport with the fans even after he departed for Reading in 2017, and last summer he penned a two-year contract with AS Monaco.
Mannone has featured occasionally for the club but he’s rarely even been on the bench this season, and this past summer saw surprise links with a return to Sunderland, with Roker Report claiming that there were discussions between both clubs regarding a deal.
Nothing ended up transpiring, however prior to Sunderland’s Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal this week, Mannone has dropped a hint on his future and has issued a ‘never say never’ statement regarding a potential return to Wearside.
“I’m always open to coming back,” Mannone told iNews on heading back to England when his Monaco deal expires in June.
“It has been my home for 13 to 14 years. I’m open to jumping on a plane. Me and my family are so used to the English culture and it’s definitely an option for the future.
“Regarding Sunderland, you never know. If destiny wants me back, I will come back. If it doesn’t ever happen again, I will always be the number one fan of the club.”
This revelation is bound to get Sunderland fans excited.
Mannone may be turning 34 years old in early 2022 but goalkeepers don’t tend to lose it that quickly and you can imagine that he would still be a good player to have at Championship or League One level.
The fact that the Italian is a cult hero at the Stadium of Light as well would bring a feel-good factor to the fanbase should a deal be struck.
Whether that happens remains to be seen but with his latest words you could not possibly rule it out.