AUGSBURG have not given up hope of keeping Ji Dong-won, despite failing to activate the clause in the Sunderland striker’s loan deal.
The Bundesliga outfit have been eager to land Ji on a permanent move after his five goals in 17 appearances helped them secure survival in the German top flight.
But money is the greatest barrier towards Augsburg landing Ji, as they struggle to raise the £2million fee agreed with Sunderland when the South Korean left the Stadium of Light in January.
Augsburg general manager Stefan Reuter insists the club are still in talks over a move for Ji, who didn’t make a single first-team appearance for Sunderland last season.
Reuter said: “The player knows what he did for us, but we also know what we did for the player.”
Should Augsburg’s finances preclude them from agreeing a deal for Ji, then there are plenty of other suitors waiting in the wings.
Bundesliga outfits Freiburg and Borrusia Monchengladbach are both thought to be keeping tabs on the former Chunnam Dragons man after he impressed in the relegation scrap, despite being used in either central midfield or out wide.
Ji could still have a future at Sunderland, with Black Cats head coach Paolo Di Canio yet to work with the frontman.
But Sunderland are conscious this summer of the need to balance the books, to comply with both FIFA Fair Play and the £4million wage budget increase limit, imposed by Premier League clubs after the new TV deal.
Like Ahmed Elmohamady, who also spent the end of the campaign away from Wearside on loan, Ji is likely to be sacrificed if Sunderland can cover their initial outlay and remove him permanently from the wage bill.