SUNDERLAND will not let unsettled Nacho Scocco leave on the cheap.
The Argentinian striker spoke in his homeland last week about his readiness to return to South America after a lacklustre few months on Wearside.
But Sunderland have absolutely no intention of letting a player who Gus Poyet still rates highly, leave on the cheap.
The Black Cats paid Brazilian side Internacional £3.2m for Scocco in the January transfer window and Boca Juniors - who head a host of interested countries in South America have been told they will have to match that fee before Sunderland consider coming to the table.
Scocco was brought in by Poyet as the man with the key to unlock stubborn defences, the player who would provide that little bit of magic or creativity in attack which would tilt games Sunderland’s way.
But the 29-year-old never shone in the way he had done at other clubs and barely started a game for the Black Cats.
Now, Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate and San Lorenzo have all been linked with a bid for the frontman, while Scocco himself has spoken of a preference to rejoin his old club Newell’s.
Money is tight though in the South American leagues and Boca are believed to the only club likely to match Sunderland’s asking price, having sold midfielder Juan Sanchez Mino to Italian side Torino for £2.4m this week.
Gus Poyet ended last season conceding that Scocco had failed to convince in the way he had expected.
But he also expressed the hope that Sunderland fans would see a different Scocco once the Argentinian had spent more time in the country and got a full pre-season behind him.
Scocco’s comments though might just have persuaded Poyet that regardless of the striker’s merits, he does not want a player who clearly appears to be uncommitted to the club.
And he might just decide that it would be right to cash in on the player this summer if Sunderland get an acceptable offer and look to recruit afresh.
Scocco’s representative Fabian Soldini gave a radio interview in which he revealed: “The only way Scocco could be transferred to Boca is if they pay the same money that Sunderland invested in him, which would be near $5.5m [around £3.2m].
“On the other hand, the coach of Sunderland wants Scocco in his team and it is he who makes the decisions at the club.
“Taking that into account, it would be difficult for him to be transferred to an Argentinian team.
“But, in football, anything can happen.”
Scocco made just two starts for Sunderland last season - both in the FA Cup - and had half-a-dozen appearances as a substitute in the Premier League but failed to score in any of his outings.