TRANSFER TALK - Reims in talks for Sunderland’s Roberge

Valentin Roberge
Valentin Roberge

SUNDERLAND defender Valentin Roberge could be on his way to Stade de Reims, according to reports in France.

The French side have reportedly opened talks with Sunderland over Roberge, who has been limited to a bit-part role since arriving at the Stadium of Light last summer.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet intriguingly said Roberge was “unavailable” for Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup clash at Birmingham City, when the 27-year-old would have featured.

And while the Black Cats have not been pushing Roberge towards the exit door - like fellow Bosman arrivals from last summer Cabral and Modibo Diakite - they have been willing to listen to offers for the ex-Maritimo man.

Roberge started the opening Premier League encounter at West Brom, yet after being harshly penalised for the penalty from which the Baggies equalised, he again struggled with the physicality of English football.

However, Roberge’s departure would make Sunderland’s need for further recruits at the back even more acute before Monday’s transfer deadline, as it would leave just five defenders in the first-team squad.

Sunderland continue to be linked with a loan move for Atletico Madrid’s Belgian international centre-half Toby Alderweireld.

And Poyet holds a long-term interest in Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk, although Sunderland have not made a formal bid for the Dutchman, despite reports to the contrary.