SUNDERLAND target Ki Sung-Yeung will not be allowed to leave Swansea on a permanent deal.
But the Black Cats appear to be in pole position for the South Korean, as they look to finalise a loan move before next Monday’s transfer deadline.
Sunderland are one of several sides who have registered an enquiry with Swansea for Ki after the 24-year-old has dropped to fifth in the pecking order at the Liberty Stadium in the early stages of the season.
One leading Championship side have also made contact with the Swans, as have a Bundesliga outfit - although the latter enquiry was several weeks ago and there have been no further discussions between the two clubs.
And despite speculation that Everton are monitoring Ki too, it is understood that the Toffees have yet to hold any talks with Swansea over the midfielder, who joined the Welsh club in a £6million deal from Celtic 12 months ago.
That leaves Sunderland as hot favourites to land Ki, although Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins insists he will only be allowed to leave the club on a season-long loan.
Jenkins said: “We have had a couple of calls in relation to Ki because, as everybody can see, he has not been in the squad much in the early part of the season.
“But one thing I would emphasise is that Ki is not going to leave permanently.
“We brought him here last year as somebody who suits this club and somebody who will be with us for the future. Our thoughts on that have not changed.
“If, and it’s a big if, Ki leaves, it will be on loan.
“Personally I am not keen for him to go anywhere because we have got a lot of games coming up and we need as much cover as possible.
“But there’s also a view from Ki’s side and his agent’s side that he would like to play regularly.
“There are a few options because he is well thought of.”
Head coach Paolo Di Canio has refused to be drawn on Sunderland’s interest in Ki, but he looks to be Sunderland’s main target for the Italian’s summer-long chase for a midfield playmaker.
Sunderland have been linked with Roma’s Michael Bradley and Inter Milan’s Zdravko Kuzmanovic but neither appear to be viable targets.