SUNDERLAND have made their first major signing of the summer, according to an agent of Basel midfielder Cabral.
The claim in the Swiss media that Cabral has signed a four-year contract may be premature, with no confirmation from the Black Cats, whose new director of football Roberto Di Fanti is not due to take over until next month.
But it certainly suggests Wearside is a possible destination for the 24-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of next month.
There had been rumours earlier in the year that the Cape Verde-born player had agreed a pre-contract with Championship club Blackburn Rovers.
His performances against Manchester United in the 2011-12 Champions League alerted a number of English scouts to his potential.
Although Cabral can also play as a centre-back, he regularly operates as a defensive midfielder for Basel.
If Sunderland were unable to confirm Cabral’s arrival, they were happy to point out there is no truth in rumours manager Paolo Di Canio is trying to renegotiate the contract he signed less than two months ago.
Weekend reports suggested the Italian was looking for a pay rise after saving the Black Cats from relegation, and that owner Ellis Short would look to replace him with Gustavo Poyet if agreement could not be reached.
But club sources insist this is not the case.
Any discussions between Di
Canio and Short will be over summer recruitment and the continued restructuring of the club.
That will continue with the appointment Di Fanti, and the search for a new academy coach after Craig Liddle was surprisingly sacked a year into his new job.
There may be further changes, with Di Canio unhappy at some of the support staff beyond his backroom after they celebrated Wigan Athletic’s defeat to Swansea City.
The result was a major help in sparing Sunderland from relegation, but Di Canio felt it was indicative of a weak mentality at the club. The notoriously-demanding former striker has already made it abundantly clear he is looking to bring about a change of culture at the Academy of Light and, harsh though it may sound, it would be no surprise if he made further staff changes to help the process.
His main focus, though, will be producing a better squad for next season. That will require compatriot Di Fanti to unearth available players who can meet his exacting standards, and keep those already at the club who have impressed.
Aston Villa forward Andreas Weimann is one of the players who has been linked with Sunderland – along with plenty of other clubs, Newcastle United included. The Austrian’s future should become clearer after a meeting between his agent Robert Groener and Villa, apparently scheduled for today.
“There is a meeting planned and we hope we can come to a successful conclusion,” Groener is quoted as saying.
“Andi will stay in the Premier League, but at which club I do not know at this moment. There are offers, but we will first meet Villa and listen to them.”
Sunderland are also expected to sign Maritimo centre-back Valentin Roberge, who is out of contract.
Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was last season’s outstanding player and has already been linked with Liverpool and Arsenal in a £10m summer move.
“We already have some quality players here, and I want them to stay,” Di Canio said. “I want to build something and take the club forward – that is my mission.”
Part one of his “mission” was saving the club from relegation, something that was looking increasingly likely when he took charge with seven games to go.
Di Canio won two and drew two, finishing one place above the relegation zone. It was an important achievement, but hardly cause for a bumper pay-rise on a contract due to run until the end of the 2014-15 season.