SUNDERLAND will be able to call upon Seb Larsson again next season after the Sweden international signed a new three-year deal.
However, the Black Cats’ pursuit of Argentine midfielder Ever Banega looks doomed to failure after new Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino made the 25-year-old one of his key summer targets.
Larsson finally ended the uncertainty over his future yesterday morning when he penned a new deal that commits him to the Stadium of Light until 2017.
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The 28-year-old’s previous contract expired at the start of this month, and he talked terms with a number of interested parties as he pondered whether to leave Wearside.
Stoke City offered him an opportunity to remain in the Premier League, while Borussia Monchengladbach, Besiktas and Galatasaray all offered lucrative deals to move to the continent.
However, Larsson opted to remain with Sunderland, having been impressed with the ambitions expressed by head coach Gustavo Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton.
“I’m delighted to have signed a new deal with the club,” said Larsson. “I’ve had talks with Gus and Lee Congerton and I feel that this is a club moving in the right direction and I want to be part of it.
“I had a few options, but I want to be at Sunderland and I’m looking forward to the new season.”
Given his status as a free agent, Larsson was offered an increase on his previous earnings at the Stadium of Light, which are understood to have been around £20,000-a-week.
“It’s the single largest contract our agency has ever negotiated for any player,” said Anders Carlsson, the chief executive of NSky Agency, who are Larsson’s representatives.
The Swede initially joined Sunderland as a free agent in June 2011, and has enjoyed a number of ups and downs in the subsequent three years.
He was in and out of the first team for the majority of last season, but became a permanent fixture in the final month of the campaign, with his best form coinciding with the Black Cats’ thrilling survival bid.
With Jack Colback expected to join either Newcastle or West Ham, Larsson’s availability will help provide some welcome continuity in a midfield area that is likely to undergo considerable change this summer.
Banega has been mentioned as a potential midfield addition on a number of occasions, with Valencia looking to move on the Argentinian, who was left out of his national team’s World Cup squad earlier this week.
Having loaned Banega to Newell’s Old Boys last season, Valencia will agree to a permanent switch provided their asking price of around £5.5m is met.
Sunderland are keen to do a deal, but Tottenham’s interest will reduce their chances of signing Banega significantly.
Pochettino has been promised a significant transfer fund this summer, and sources in South America claim the Argentine manager has included his compatriot on a list of names submitted to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
With Spurs able to offer European competition, as well as the potential pursuit of a top-four place, it will be difficult for Sunderland to persuade Banega to move to the North-East.