Roberge and Diakite close to Sunderland exit door

PLAYED LITTLE FOOTBALL: Sunderland's Valentin Roberge
PLAYED LITTLE FOOTBALL: Sunderland's Valentin Roberge

GUS POYET has confirmed summer signings Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite could leave the Stadium of Light this month, with the latter closest to the exit door.

The two centre-halves have made just 14 Premier League starts between them since ex-director of football Roberto De Fanti signed them on Bosman deals during the summer.

Neither have been able to oust first-choice defensive pair John O’Shea and Wes Brown, while the arrival of Argentina international Santiago Vergini has pushed them further down the pecking order.

It is understood that Sunderland have been prepared to offload the pair this month and Poyet admits they could now both depart, particularly Diakite who is thought to be behind Roberge in the head coach’s thinking.

Poyet said: “They know where they are.

“A player normally wants to play and when they are not, they’re always looking for options.

“But it’s a possibility, especially for Diakite.”

While Diakite and Roberge performed well when thrown together at Everton on Boxing Day, in the absence of both O’Shea and Brown, they were exposed against Cardiff 48 hours later.

Italian sides Verona and Genoa have both been linked with a move for Diakite, with the latter already taking fellow Sunderland Bosman signing Cabral on-loan for the rest of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

A return to Serie A looks the likeliest move for the 26-year-old, who enjoyed a positive reputation in Italy before an injury-hit campaign at Lazio last season.

There has been talk of interest in Roberge from Spanish side Hercules too, with the club’s manager Quique Hernandez working with the French defender at Greek side Aris.

Should the pair leave before next Friday’s transfer deadline, it will mark the departure of all three of Sunderland’s summer Bosman arrivals, less than six months after they arrived.