Belfast Telegraph

Mannone rejects departure claims

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone has dismissed claims he has handed in a transfer request following the arrival of Costel Pantilimon.

Suggestions emerged in Mannone's native Italy that he was unhappy following the Black Cats' capture of former Manchester City man Pantilimon earlier this month, with the newcomer having set his sights on the number one spot after signing a four-year-deal.

However, the 26-year-old, who established himself as a firm favourite with the club's fans last season, is in no mood to move aside.

He said in a statement: "I don't know where this false speculation is coming from, but I want to let supporters know that there is absolutely nothing in it.

"I have not asked for a transfer and I have no intention of doing so. Why would I?

"I love Sunderland and the Sunderland fans. I enjoyed last season and am looking forward to next season, and hope we can reward the fans by winning something."

Sunderland's pool of keepers has been significantly depleted by the departure of out-of-contract duo Keiren Westwood and Oscar Ustari, and it was no surprise when they reinforced that department earlier this month.

However, the recruitment of another potential number one was something of a surprise, although Mannone does not fear the competition.

He said: "I welcome the arrival of another goalkeeper at the club. All big clubs need cover in all positions.

"The manager told me some time ago that he would be bringing someone else in because two keepers were leaving, but he also told me I am his number one, and that's good enough for me."

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