Sunderland will offload Modibo Diakite this summer

SETBACK ... Diakite.
SETBACK ... Diakite.

SUNDERLAND will look to offload Modibo Diakite this summer, despite the set-back of Fiorentina not signing the big defender permanently.

The imposing centre-half spent the second-half of last season on loan to the Serie A outfit, who had the option to sign him full-time at the end of the campaign.

The 27-year-old made nine appearances for the Italian club in what proved to be a successful season for La Viola, who finished fourth in the table and qualified for next season’s Europa League.

Fiorentina though have decided to pass though on the chance to permanently sign the former Lazio centre-half and the 6ft 2ins Frenchman is now set to return to Sunderland for pre-season.

The player’s agent, Ulisse Savini, said: “Diakite will definitely return to Sunderland after his loan.

“At the moment I have no news from Fiorentina or from other clubs, so we are preparing to face the next season with the Black Cats.”

Gus Poyet however will not be looking to re-integrate Diakite into the squad and the club will continue to explore the player’s options away from the Stadium of Light – either on loan or permanent.

Diakite was a player that former manager Paolo Di Canio and director of football Roberto De Fanti had high hopes for when they brokered his move to Wearside last summer.

The defender had a reputation for being injury-prone but a class act when fully fit.

And Sunderland took a punt on him having an injury-free run and becoming the rock on which Di Canio could base his defence.

Diakite missed the Black Cats’ opening game last season with a niggle but was brought straight back into the side for the games against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Arsenal.

He played in Di Canio’s last game in charge, the 3-0 defeat at West Brom, but quickly fell out of the first-team picture upon Gus Poyet’s arrival.

And although he was involved briefly in the busy festive period, he was offloaded to Fiorentina when the January transfer window opened.

Diakite is one of a number of players sent out on loan last season – including Alfred N’Diaye, Danny Graham and Cabral – that Poyet has made his mind up over and will not seek to include in the Black Cat’s long-term plans.

Sunderland’s head coach is focused on a major overhaul of his squad and has already signed Billy Jones from West Brom and Jordi Gomeze from Wigan.

But he also fully understands that a major part of his job will be unloading the many players that have become surplus to requirements since his arrival at the club.

l Sunderland have confirmed their pre-season trip this summer will be to Portugal.

Gus Poyet and the Black Cats squad will be booked into a training complex on the Algarve between July 28 and August 3 for warm weather training and team bonding.

The club is scheduled to play three games while they are out there but the dates, times and opponents have yet to be rubber-stamped.

Those three games will allow Poyet’s players to build on two friendly games already announced, which will take place before they jet off the Mediterranean Sea.

Sunderland will take on Carlisle United at Brunton Park on Tuesday, July 22 (kick-off 7.30pm) and the following night will face Hartlepool United, Wednesday, July 23 at Victoria Park (kick-off 7.30pm).

l Sunderland have continued their link up with Asian betting and gaming partner TLC188 by extending their partnership with the online betting company for a further three years.

Much of Black Cats’ chairman Ellis Short’s business dealings have been in Asia and the club has worked on extending strong business links across the continent.

The new deal with the gambling company is part of that process.

Over the last couple of years the club has gone on a pre-season tour to South Korea and took part in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Hong Kong.