Napoli to move for Premier League goalkeeper.
Napoli manager Rafael Benitez could be set to switch his focus from Liverpool’s Pepe Reina to Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone, CaughtOffside understands.
The Italian giants are in the hunt for a new signing between the sticks this summer after taking Reds shot-stopper Reina on loan for the 2013/14 season, though recent reports suggest that the club will not be taking up the option to sign the 31-year-old permanently, as he is too expensive.
Reina looks unlikely to become first choice for Liverpool again after the Merseyside giants signed Simon Mignolet last summer, but he could still have an offer from Barcelona this summer as they eye a new backup keeper.
Napoli, meanwhile, remain keen on bringing someone in and will now look to former Arsenal ace Mannone as their number one target in that position, after the Italian impressed in his first season with the Black Cats this term.
The 26-year-old had largely been a backup player during his time at the Emirates Stadium, but made the decision to quit the club in order to play regular first-team football, and he has certainly grabbed the opportunity with both hands at the Stadium of Light.
Mannone played a key role in Sunderland’s successful fight against relegation, and also shone in the Capital One Cup as Gus Poyet’s side reached the final of the competition by beating Manchester United over two legs in the semi-finals.
Inter Milan have also looked at signing the player in recent months as they also consider making a new signing in goal, but Napoli now appear to be his main suitors this summer.
Sunderland will be understandably keen not to let such an important player leave this summer as they hope to improve for next season, but their struggles in the Premier League could mean a number of their stars will be keen to move on.
Winger Adam Johnson already looks like making an exit as he looks set to join Everton on loan, while Mannone will no doubt be tempted by the prospect of playing Champions League football at the Stadio San Paolo next year after Benitez guided the club to third place in Serie A.
In a further blow to Sunderland, it could be that Mannone’s previous club Arsenal will receive a decent chunk of any transfer fee that the Naples outfit pay to sign the shot-stopper.