SUNDERLAND goalkeeper Simon Mignolet should become a Liverpool goalkeeper early next week after a fee was finally agreed between the two Premier League clubs.
The Black Cats are understood to have accepted a fee in the region of £11m for the Belgium international and he is set to be handed a five-year deal at Anfield when he returns from holiday.
Sunderland are now looking for a replacement, with Arsenal's Vito Mannone the latest to have been credited with interesting the recently appointed director of football at the Stadium of Light, Roberto De Fanti.
Mignolet's future has been uncertain since the end of the season when it became clear there was an extensive list of clubs interested in taking him from Wearside this summer.
The 24-year-old is set to enter the final year of his contract in 12 months time and having expressed a reluctance to pen a new deal Sunderland know he will not be worth as much he is now.
And Liverpool, keen to line up a long term replacement for Spaniard Pepe Reina, have agreed to match Sunderland's valuation.
Reina is being courted by Bracelona, although he is in no rush to leave Liverpool until he knows that current Nou Camp No 1 Victor Valdes is to depart the Spanish champions.
The transfer fee for Mignolet will mean Paolo Di Canio has greater freedom in the market to overhaul the squad he inherited from Martin O'Neill at the start of April.
The Italian has already made positive moves on the transfer front and an indication his his confident a deal with Liverpool will be concluded is that he has increased the offer for Inter Milan's attacking midfielder Alfred Duncan.
Duncan, who has hinted an interest in moving to the Premier League to join the scout who spotted him, Valentino Angeloni, is rated at more than £10m by Inter Milan and Sunderland have upped their initial offer to £8m.
Di Canio is keen not to spend too much on a new goalkeeper and is happy to give Keiren Westwood the opportunity to prove himself provided there are no late hiccups with Mignolet's medical.
Despite signing Cabral, Modibo Diakite, Valentin Roberge, El-Hadji Ba, David Karlsson and Duncan Watmore, Sunderland are pressing ahead in many other areas – particularly in Italy.
But yesterday they were linked with AZ Alkmaar's former Hull City striker Jozy Altidore, who his 51 goals in 93 appearances in Holland.
The Mignolet cash would strengthen the club's arm in their recruitment drive, while Sunderland could also bring in more money by offloading the likes of Phil Bardsley, Danny Graham and Stephane Sessegnon.
Derby hero David Vaughan is likely to be offloaded too, with Crystal Palace keen but he would not command much of a transfer fee as he enters the final year of his contract.