Is Sunderland's Santiago Vergini set to link up again with Gus Poyet at Real Betis?
Sunderland outcast Santiago Vergini could be offered an escape route thanks to former manager Gus Poyet, writes Richard Mennear.
The 27-year-old defender is not part of manager Sam Allardyce’s plans next season but Poyet is considering whether to offer him a chance of a fresh start at Real Betis.
The former Sunderland boss left AEK Athens last month and has signed a two-year-deal with the Primera Division side.
Betis are among several Spanish clubs keeping tabs on Vergini.
There is also interest from Germany and from Vergini’s homeland with former club Newell’s Old Boys and Club Atletico Independiente both tracking him
It could be a case of one out and one in from Spain, with Sunderland linked with a summer move for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ibai Gomez.
The 26-year-old suffered an injury-hit 2015-16 campaign but is available for a cut-price £2.3million fee despite a sizeable release clause, according to sources in Spain.
The midfielder, who usually plays wide left, has a year left on his current deal but an extension of his contract is unlikely.
Allardyce, set to manage an England XI against a Rest of the World side in tomorrow’s Soccer Aid charity game, is facing a busy summer overhaul at Sunderland.
Top of his priorities, alongside recruiting quality players to bolster his squad, is shipping out the deadwood.
Out of contract strikers Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher are set to leave the club, along with veteran defender Wes Brown.
But Allardyce still has a host of unwanted players under contract taking up a sizeable chunk of the wage bill.
That includes Argentine international Vergini, who spent last season on loan in Spain.
Vergini joined Getafe last July, with a view to a permanent switch at the end of the season.
But Getafe were relegated from La Liga and with cost-cutting now on the horizon, Vergini - who made 28 appearances last season - is expected back on Wearside.
Sunderland were forced to sign Vergini last summer after a clause was triggered following the number of appearances he had made during his season-long loan at the Stadium of Light.
But unlike predecessor Poyet, Dick Advocaat made it crystal-clear that Vergini was not part of his plans and had told him to find a new club.
The Sunderland squad is due back at the Academy of Light at the start of July and the Echo understands the pre-season schedule will include domestic friendlies and a training camp abroad.