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Bruce explains Muntari was not value for money
Published : 14 May 2011 00:56:00
STEVE Bruce claims yesterday's decision to send Sulley Muntari back to Inter Milan proves Sunderland will not be taken for a ride in the transfer market this summer. Had Muntari been involved in today's Premier League game with Wolves, his tenth appearance for the Black Cats would have automatically triggered a contractual clause that would have turned his temporary switch into a permanent transfer. The Ghana international currently earns around £70,000-a-week at the San Siro, and having watched him at close quarters in the last three months, Bruce has decided his skills do not justify an investment that would have run to more than £3m-a-year in wages alone. The Sunderland boss will be an active participant in the transfer market this summer, and has already hinted that seven or eight new signings could arrive at the Stadium of Light before the transfer window closes at the end of August. However, while selling clubs are likely to quote inflated fees in the knowledge that the Wearsiders are still to receive the bulk of Darren Bent's £24m transfer fee, Bruce insists he will be driving a hard bargain as he looks to improve his squad. "I've been in management for a long time now, and the one thing I pride myself on is making sure I get the best value I possibly can for my signings," said the Black Cats manager. "It's an important part of your job. "You have to get good value for money, and I just didn't think that was the case (with Muntari). "We knew when we took out the option that it was at a very high level, but we were hoping we would be left with a difficult decision to make. "There'll be more tough decisions to come, but getting value for money is an important part of my remit as we head into the summer." Bruce has spent the last three months monitoring a number of attacking targets, but is not expected to make a formal approach for anyone until the latter half of the summer. The likes of Miroslav Klose and Hugo Rodallega are understood to be on his list of potential signings, while an anticipated clear-out at Tottenham could also see the likes of Peter Crouch, Roman Pavlyuchenko and even Jermain Defoe emerge as viable alternatives. There is even the prospect of another round of discussions with Muntari towards the end of the transfer window, but the midfielder would have to accept a major reduction in his wages if he was to make a surprise return to the Stadium of Light. "At the moment, the deal that was in place is a bit rich for us," said Bruce. "We had Sulley over and the intention was for a deal to happen, but we've looked at it and come to the conclusion that it's a bit too much money. "It's something we might address again in the future, but at this moment we don't want to commit ourselves. "If there was to be a reduction in the cost, perhaps it could still be a possibility." With Muntari back in Italy, and Anton Ferdinand unavailable for this afternoon's game because of a hamstring injury sustained in last weekend's win at Bolton, Bruce is down to his last 11 fit senior players as he prepares to entertain a Wolves side that are one point clear of the relegation zone with two games to play. Ahmed Elmohamady will revert to his former position of right-back after a brief spell in a more attacking role seven days ago, while Cristian Riveros will come in from the cold to make his first league start since Boxing Day. Riveros was expected to make a considerable impact when he arrived from Cruz Azul last summer, but the Paraguayan has hardly contributed anything in his four Premier League starts. His future is uncertain, with a number of South American clubs interested in his services, but Bruce claims it is not too late for the 28-year-old to prove his worth. "I've felt a bit for Riveros because he hasn't really had a chance to show what he can do," he said. "But there are two games left, so it's a case of, 'Right, there you are, show us what you're capable of'. "Let's hope he can have an impact in the final two matches, playing alongside Jack (Colback)." The extent of Sunderland's injury problems means Bruce is set to name just six players on the bench this afternoon, none of whom have made a senior start.