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Arsenal and Man Utd target quashes transfer talk

Simon Mignolet, Sunderland goalkeeper. Photo: Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport Simon Mignolet, Sunderland goalkeeper. Photo: Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
3:00 PM

Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has moved to quell speculation that he could leave the club in a bid to regain his place as Belgium’s number one.

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Comments from his agent Guy Vandermissen to the Belgian media suggested that the 24-year may have to consider his future on Wearside after he fell behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order.

However, Mignolet was quick to issue reassurances this afternoon.

Mignolet told the Black Cats’ official website, www.safc.com: “I felt I wanted to communicate with the club’s fans following the media reaction to comments made by my representative, which I feel were taken out of context and not a true reflection.

“Of course, my ambition is to regain the number one spot with my national team, but I feel I can do that with Sunderland.

“I was playing as Belgium’s number one a year ago and hopefully that can be the case in the future.

“I am happy at Sunderland - a club I am proud to represent. I will continue focusing on my football, starting with Saturday’s game against Fulham.”

Mignolet made his move after Vandermissen suggested he may need to be playing his football with a higher profile club if he was to depose Chelsea’s Courtois, who is currently on loan at Atletico Madrid.

He told Belgian broadcaster ATVs: “Our ambition is for Simon to play somewhere that he can engage in competition with Thibaut Courtois for the place in goal for Belgium.

“Courtois is fortunate that he is playing for a team that has been doing well lately.”

The news will come as a relief to manager Martin O’Neill, who has seen Mignolet make the keeper’s spot at the Stadium of Light his own.

Keiren Westwood, who has lost his place and the Republic of Ireland’s number one because of his lack of first-team football, is an able deputy, but Mignolet’s form has marked him out as one of the most accomplished keepers in the Barclays Premier League this season.

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Arsenal

Nickname: The Gunners.

Ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,361).

Founded: 1886.

Honours: First Division (until 1992) and Premier League: 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1948, 1953, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2004.

FA Cup: 1930, 1936, 1950, 1971, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005.

League Cup: 1987, 1993.

Fairs Cup: 1970.

Cup Winners’ Cup: 1994.

Leading goalscorer: Thierry Henry, 228.

Leading appearances: David O’Leary, 722.