JI DONG-WON remains likely to leave Sunderland this summer, despite suggestions from the striker that he could stay at the Stadium of Light.
A host of Bundesliga clubs have been chasing Ji’s signature after the South Korean impressed during a loan spell in Germany with Augsburg last season.
SportMail understands Sunderland have already rejected an offer from Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund for Ji’s services, with Stuttgart, Freiburg and Borrusia Monchengladbach also interested.
Reports in the German press yesterday suggested that was because Ji had been offered an olive branch from Sunderland after the 22-year-old was interviewed in Korea en route to pre-season training back on Wearside.
“To be honest, several clubs are interested in me after last season,” said Ji.
“It’s why I’ve been thinking about a change of club, but Sunderland will not let me go.
“I will always do my best, no matter where I play. The most important thing for me is that I play as much as possible.”
But it is understood that Sunderland are still willing to part company with Ji.
The Black Cats will not allow the former Chunnam Dragons frontman to leave cheaply while his stock is high though and it is thought that Dortmund will have to pay well in excess of £5million to land their man.
That would represent a more than healthy return for Sunderland, who paid £2m to bring Ji to the Stadium of Light two years ago – further boosting the club’s transfer funds after the £2m departure of Ahmed Elmohamady and £9m sale of Simon Mignolet.
Sunderland have already used some of that money to bring in Bosman trio Modibo Diakite, Valentin Roberge and Cabral, plus Swedish striker David Moberg Karlsson and goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
And Paolo Di Canio’s ranks are expected to be further swelled over the coming days by the capture of Le Havre duo Benjamin Mendy and El-Hadji Ba, along with Panathinaikos winger Charas Mavrias.
The three are the closest to completion among Sunderland’s transfer targets, although Argentine right-back Gino Peruzzi is also on the verge of finalising his move, according to his club Velez Sarsfield.
Mendy was on Wearside for a second day of talks yesterday after Le Havre accepted a fee around the £3m mark last weekend.