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Aug 20, 2008

Sunderland close to signing Cisse from OM

Marseille president Pape Diouf has revealed Djibril Cisse turned down offers from a number of English sides, including Manchester City, before eventually deciding to join Sunderland.

The France striker is set to move to the Black Cats on a season-long loan deal after they reached an 'agreement in principle' with the French club over his transfer.

Cisse, who spent two-and-a-half seasons with Liverpool between the summer of 2004 and the end of 2006, had spoken of his desire to return to England this summer but it appeared he had missed the boat when he began the new campaign with Marseille.

But with just a week and a half left in the transfer window, Sunderland have made their move, beating off a clutch of Premier League rivals for Cisse's signature.

Diouf told www.om.net: 'We had the chance of replying to the offers of other clubs, like Manchester (City), but he as well as me said 'no'.

'People were perhaps expecting Djibril to move to a prestigious team. And Sunderland, without being among the great English clubs, are part of a league where clubs have all the economic power and sporting importance.

'With Sunderland, it isn't an impulsive thing. But as he came to the end of this transfer window, he wanted to leave and showed a massive desire to play.

'It is that, more than his divorce from OM, that is in his mind at the moment.'

Diouf added that Cisse was eager to move to revive his stalled international career.

The 27-year-old was not part of Les Bleus' squad for Euro 2008, and being regularly benched at OM was not helping his chances of returning to the France set-up.

'It is a chance for him to get his life back in order, as far as his career and as far as the France team is concerned,' Diouf said.

'Everyone knows that his absence from the Euros mortified him. And he was fearing he would lose his place for good with Les Bleus if he stayed on the bench here.

'All these elements have played their part in this choice he has made, and to which we have responded favourably.'

Diouf maintained OM coach Eric Gerets would not necessarily be dipping into the transfer market in search of a replacement for Cisse.

The Belgian seems to have indicated there is enough strength in depth in the current squad to cover for the loss of Cisse.

'Eric Gerets, who agreed to this loan, said to me very clearly that he already has solutions within his current group,' Diouf added.

'(Elliot) Grandin has demonstrated his ability as he fights for his place in the side. And the boy (Karim) Ziani has shown his worth in pre-season and against Auxerre (in Sunday's 4-0 win).

'We will see together if there is a need to find someone who has a profile like Djibril's. But we have time for that.

'Because I repeat, the coach assures me the solution was already there in the squad.'

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