This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sunderland are interested in re-signing AS Monaco shot-stopper Vito Mannone between now and the end of the window, according to Roker Report.
The Italian goalkeeper is currently plying his trade with the Ligue 1 after joining on a two-year contract last summer following his release from Reading – but only made nine appearances in the French top division last term and could be allowed to leave Niko Kovac’s side this summer after falling behind Radoslaw Majecki and Alexander Nubel in the pecking order.
As per the Roker Report update, there have been discussions between the Black Cats and Monaco regarding a potential deal to bring him back to Wearside, four years after leaving the Stadium of Light permanently to go to Reading.
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He spent four seasons at Sunderland between 2013 and 2017, becoming a fan favourite and making a total of 80 appearances for the club.
The 33-year-old would be competing for the number one jersey with Lee Burge if he was to return to north-east England as Lee Johnson’s side look to return to the second tier – and Mannone could potentially guide them there if his previous performances for the Black Cats are anything to go by.
But would he still be a valuable asset for them after all these years?
We asked three of our FLW writers for their thoughts on this potential move, whether he would be a good signing and if he’s really needed with Burge and academy graduate Anthony Patterson available as existing options.
This would be a smart signing for Sunderland.
Lee Burge is a decent keeper at League One level so it’s not as if he desperately needs to be replaced but the chance to bring in Mannone is one the club should take.
Whilst he hasn’t played regularly during his time in France, the fact he is at Monaco shows the calibre of Mannone. Plus, Sunderland fans will have fond memories of his performances for the club in the Premier League. So, to sign him as a League One outfit would be a coup and at 33, the Italian should still have a few years left at a decent level.
The fact he knows the club, is experienced and will not command a big fee means that this is one that the Black Cats should look to close swiftly if it is possible.
This seems like a clever addition for Sunderland, but a lot of things will need to be established as a result.
It is very difficult to see Vito Mannone dropping down to League One just to sit on a bench. Lee Burge is a strong option at third-tier level, so it would be interesting to see what kind of role that those with power at Sunderland see the vastly experienced goalkeeper playing.
As it stands, Burge is number 1 with Jacob Carney and Anthony Patterson battling it out to play deputy. Burge does not appear to be in any immediate danger of being challenged to a starting spot, and that is exactly what the signing of a vastly experienced shot-stopper like Mannone will bring.
Mannone featured heavily for The Black Cats during his four-year spell with the club, back when Sunderland were in the Premier League. Unless he is viewed as a genuine contender for that starting spot, there is not much of a reason to bring Mannone in.
This would be a sensational signing for Sunderland – but it’s hard to see them pulling it off.
For one, Mannone is currently contracted to AS Monaco of Ligue 1, and you have to imagine the Italian is getting a decent wage for being the third-choice stopper at the club.
But Sunderland are clearly a club that is dear in the heart of Mannone – would he be willing to cut his wages to make a return to Wearside and get regular football?
It’s a hard one to weigh up but Mannone spent four years at the Stadium of Light – all in the Premier League – and supporters still clearly are fond of the 33-year-old.
If Kyril Louis-Dreyfus wants him he will be able to surely pay him enough to make the move, but for some reason I just cannot see it happening.