Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Costel's Arrival Means Vito Future Is in Doubt

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Costel's Arrival Means Vito Future Is in Doubt

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter Sports Writer

COSTEL Pantilimon's arrival at Sunderland is set to spark a battle for the goakeeping shirt on Wearside.

The Romania international goalkeeper has become the Black Cats' third Bosman signing after agreeing a four-year deal which takes effect on July 1 when his contract at Manchester City expires.

However, Sunderland's move for the 27-year-old has thrown the future of fans' favourite Vito Mannone into doubt, the new signing unlikely to be willing to settle for a substitute's role again after spending three years as understudy to England's firstchoice keeper Joe Hart at City. The 6ft 8in stopper turned down a new deal with the champions, citing a desire to play regular first-team football after making just seven Premier League appearances in three years at the Etihad Stadium.

His other 22 appearances for City all came in cup competitions - including the Capital One Cup win over Sunderland at Wembley in March.

The Wearsiders had been thought to be searching for backup to Mannone, the departure of Argentinian Oscar Ustari at the end of the short-term contract he signed in January leaving them with no experienced cover for the Italian.

However, Pantilimon, having left the champions and moved on a Bosman, will be on a significant salary.

It is highly likely he has been told he will be Sunderland's first choice next season - or, at the very least will go into pre-season challenging Mannone on an equal footing.

Mannone - who was voted Player of the Year by the club's supporters' association last season - will have to either fight for his place or ask to move on.

Speaking of the battle to be considered number one at Sunderland, sporting director Lee Congerton said: "Competition for places is healthy and brings out the best in players. …

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