Star goalkeeper Simon Mignolet wants to return next season as SAFC player

HAMMERING ... Aston Villa's Christian Benteke wheels away after scoring.
HAMMERING ... Aston Villa's Christian Benteke wheels away after scoring.

HOT property Simon Mignolet has gone into the summer break saying he wants to be part of a successful Sunderland side on his return.

The Belgian keeper has been linked with a host of top clubs in England and abroad on the back of another hugely impressive season for the Black Cats.

And head coach Paolo Di Canio could face a battle to keep hold of the 24-year-old, who was Sunderland fans’ overwhelming choice as Player of the Season.

But Mignolet, a £2m signing from St Truiden in 2010, is level-headed enough to ignore all the transfer talk.

He has been happy at the Stadium of Light, where he is now established as the clear number one keeper.

And despite a miserable season for Sunderland he is hoping that the last campaign was just a blip and the club can come back much stronger next season and benefit from Paolo Di Canio’s fresh approach..

“As a footballer, you want to do well and want to win games and finish higher in the table than 17th,” admitted Mignolet.

“On that point, it was a disappointing season.

“But then again, there’s a reason for that and hopefully next year we can do a lot better.

“Of course, when a new manager comes in, there’s new things around and since he’s come in, all the games we’ve played - apart from the Aston Villa game - there were positives.

“So that’s good for the future.”

While Sunderland’s season was vastly disappointing – with the biggest plus point being that they escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth – Mignolet’s star rose as dramatically, even as his side’s fell.

Consistent displays, clean sheets and some truly stunning saves saw him recognised as one of the very best keepers in the Premier League.

But Mignolet insists that he - as well as his team-mates - must now look back on the last season and learn from mistakes made.

He said: “During the season, you don’t really think about how things are going because you still have a lot to fight for, even if that’s avoiding relegation.

“You’re focused on that - not what your hopes were in the past.

“So during the season, we were always looking ahead.

“But now the season is over, you can make a judgement on how well we’ve played and how bad we’ve played.

“Now is a time to look back over the season and for everyone to look in the mirror to see what they can do better for next season.”

Although Mignolet is free of club duties for the moment, he still has international commitments and could well be involved tonight, when Belgium play a friendly against the USA in Cleveland, Ohio, before facing Serbia in a World Cup qualifier in Brussels a week on Friday.