Wigan Athletic have finally conceded defeat in their attempts to keep their combative midfielder Lee Cattermole, with Sunderland's £8m bid – a £3m increase on their initial offer – and the England Under-21 international's reluctance to stay, finally breaking chairman Dave Whelan's resolve.
Whelan insisted when Sunderland first bid last month that Cattermole, who had also been on Liverpool's radar, was not for sale. But by almost doubling that bid and delivering Wigan a £4.5m profit on the player Steve Bruce bought from Middlesbrough last summer, Whelan could no longer refuse. It also means that the core of the side Bruce assembled before leaving for Sunderland has gone inside nine months, following Antonio Valencia's £17m move to Manchester United, and Wilson Palacios' transfer to Tottenham in January.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said the player's departure was "for the good of the club. The fee is a good one," said Martinez. "The initial offer was unacceptable, but they have now matched our valuation. The speculation about Lee has refused to go away and this has been very unsettling for him and for our players. It became clear over the past days having spoken to Lee that he wanted to leave."
Cattermole will see the move as a valuable part of his attempts to force his way into Fabio Capello's plans for next summer, after a useful European Under-21 championship in Sweden in which his disciplinary record was much improved. He also heads to Sunderland on a considerably more lucrative four-year deal. Bruce has pursued him this summer in a belief that his midfield needs strengthening. The signing sends Bruce's summer spending through the £30m barrier, reinforcing the ambitions of Texan billionaire owner Ellis Short.
Cattermole heads into the Sunderland side for Saturday's curtain raiser at Bolton. Meanwhile, Wigan are still in talks with Rayo Vallecano over midfielder Mohamed Diame and defender Antonio Amaya. Jason Scotland (£2m) and Jordi Gomez (£1.7m) who have both followed Martinez to Wigan from Swansea, the latter after a season's loan from Espanyol, are the Lancashire club's most substantial investments of the summer.Reuse content