Maritimo defender Valentin Roberge is reportedly close to joining Premier League side Sunderland on a free transfer.
Roberge, 25, began his career at Guingamp and enjoyed spells at Paris Saint-Germain and Aris Thessaloniki in Greece before joining the Portuguese club in 2010. He has played over 30 games for the club in the Portuguese league this season, helping them to 10th position in the table.
Out-of-contract in the summer, Roberge has courted interest from a number of sides throughout Europe as well as Portuguese rivals Sporting Lisbon. However, it appears that the Black Cats have stolen a march on their rivals, with Roberge traveling to Wearside to undergo a medical against the wishes of his current club.
Having previously asked club president Carlos Pereira to allow him to travel to Sunderland, it is believed the player became frustrated at being denied while Maritimo remained in the hunt for European qualification.
However speaking on Friday, manager Pedro Martins confirmed that the player would still be considered for the club’s final two games of the season, despite what he considered a ‘misunderstanding’.
He told Record: “It was nothing more than a misunderstanding and it is already been dealt with. He is a big professional, a great man, and will continue to be. The "Maritimo" was the club that helped him to grow, if he plays, I am sure he will give it his best.”
The news comes despite Paolo Di Canio admitting this week he has not invested time in player recruitment. Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, the 44-year-old said: “I haven’t thought about transfers yet - absolutely nothing. Everything can change at the moment, you can feel safe and then - boom - you can be hit like a hammer. So we have to make sure that we are safe first - I can’t think about transfers until then.”
Should Roberge complete the formalities of the move, it is likely to be one of a number of transfers at the Stadium of Light during the close season, with the club having also been linked with out-of-contract Lazio defender Modibo Diakité. A number of the club’s current players including Matt Kilgallon and Titus Bramble are nearing the end of their deals and could be heading towards the exit door.
There is also to be an expected significant overhaul of Sunderland’s technical staff, after it was confirmed last week that long serving chief scout Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson would be leaving the club at the end of the season along with his scouting team.