The agent of Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has warned that his client may have to leave the Stadium of Light if he is to realise his international ambitions.
The 24-year-old stopper has been sensational for the Black Cats this season, leading to speculation that he could be set for a summer move, with both Manchester United and Arsenal possible destinations.
However, Mignolet has failed to dislodge Atletico Madrid's Thibaut Courtois as the number one choice for Belgium and with the World Cup looming, his representative Guy Vandermissen has suggested his client may be forced to seek a move elsewhere to gain more attention.
Vandermissen told Belgian broadcaster ATV: "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 player himself has since moved to clarify the comments of his representative, issuing a statement on Sunderland's official website.
"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," it reads.
"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 has played down speculation over his future in the past, recently saying the rumours "go in one ear and out of the other".
"Sometimes you are a hero and sometimes you are in the eye of a storm — things change quickly," he said.
“The only thing I can do is focus on my own game. All those clubs I am linked with, if I make a mistake on Saturday, I will be un-linked straight away.
“It will be the exact opposite and that’s why I don’t really get fussed about it.”
However, his manager Martin O'Neill is well aware that Sunderland will face a fight to retain Mignlot's services.
O'Neill said: “He’s playing brilliantly for us and here is the place for him. But it doesn’t stop big teams coming and hovering around."
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