SUNDERLAND have opened talks with Simon Mignolet over a contract extension, but the Black Cats could still face a fight to keep their star man in the summer with Liverpool the latest to show an interest.
Mignolet has already attracted admiration from a number of Premier League clubs after a string of glittering displays between the sticks this season.
The Belgium goalkeeper has undoubtedly been Sunderland’s best player this season and his performances were rewarded when he picked up the North-East Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award last week.
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The day after, though, Mignolet’s agent, Guy Vandermissen, put his Black Cats future in doubt by hinting the shot-stopper could leave the Stadium of Light in his quest to win back the Belgium number one spot from Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois.
Mignolet quickly denied he was seeking a move away from Wearside and manager Martin O’Neill responded by opening talks over a new deal.
Manchester United and Arsenal have already been linked, but Liverpool are also monitoring his situation with uncertainty over one of their own keepers.
Pepe Reina could leave Anfield at the end of the season with several clubs across Europe, including Barcelona and Real Madrid, interested in the 30-year-old.
Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers has former Middlesbrough trainee Brad Jones and young Hungarian Peter Gulacsi as back-up, but the former has had his fair share of injury troubles, while the latter is yet to make a firstteam appearance.
It is understood Liverpool scouts have already watched Mignolet this season and will continue to look at the 24- year-old between now and the summer.
It would be huge blow for O’Neill should Mignolet leave, but the Black Cats boss does already have a ready-made replacement in Keiren Westwood.
The Republic of Ireland international has been frustrated by his lack of first-team opportunities since arriving in the summer of 2011.
Meanwhile, Black Cats youngster Billy Knott has extended his loan spell at Woking until March 30.
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