ALFRED N’Diaye is set for pain in Spain with BOTH of his potential escape routes from Sunderland now expected to come to nothing.
At one point the Black Cats’ midfielder looked to be heading into the summer as the subject of a tug of war between Spanish rivals Real Betis and Sevilla.
Betis, who took him on loan in January, were exploring ways of signing him despite impending relegation while local rivals Sevilla also registered an interest and were favourites because they could offer him La Liga football next season.
But SportMail understands that neither club plans to pursue him now, leaving N’Diaye facing a return to the Academy of Light, where he knows he is surplus to requirements.
N’Diaye made himself a popular figure at Betis’s Benito Villamarin stadium over the course of 20 appearances in the second half of last season.
And fans of the demoted outfit were hopeful the club would retain his services in a bid to bounce straight back into the top flight next season.
They could have got him at a reasonable price too.
Former Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill bought N’Diaye for £3.8m from Turkish side Bursaspor in January last year.
But he was loaned out all last season and Betis were told they could convert his loan into a permanent signing for £3.2m.
The Spanish side would have done so had they been able to stay in the top flight and went into the close season pondering whether they could juggle their finances to do so.
It was unclear whether N’Diaye was prepared to drop down a division to stay with the club.
But in the end, speculation on that subject was irrelevant as Betis finally came up with an entire summer budget of just 10 million Euros.
And with much rebuilding to be done by the struggling outfit, it meant any potential bid for N’Diaye was effectively dead in the water.
That left the way clear for Sevilla to press home any interest they might have had but that has not happened.
And the word in Spain is that Sevilla are currently pursuing two potential signings in the N’Diaye mould in Africa.
That looks certain to see N’Diaye return to the Academy of Light for pre-season at least.
He still has two years left to run on his contract but head coach Gus Poyet is not expected to have a change of heart after deciding N’Diaye’s future lay away from Sunderland.
Poyet is currently trying to shift a raft of players out of the club, of which N’Diaye is one - others include Cabral, David Moberg Karlsson. Danny Graham and Modibo Diakite.
Diakite spent the end of last season on loan at Italian side Fiorentina while Marcos Alonso made the loan journey in the opposite direction.
It had been suggested that hopes the Serie A side would take cash plus Diakite in exchange for a permanent move to Sunderland for Alonso had not come off; that the Italians did not want the big defender.
But reports this week suggest that a potential swap deal for Alonso in exchange for Diakite plus money, is not completely off the table..