Cats boss turns his attention to Humberto Suazo

SUNDERLAND are continuing to monitor Humberto Suazo after Real Zaragoza were priced out of a deal for the Chilean striker.

Humberto Suazo

SUNDERLAND are continuing to monitor Humberto Suazo after Real Zaragoza were priced out of a deal for the Chilean striker.

But the Black Cats would be forced to part with £12million should they pursue their interest in the player – who is contracted to Mexican side Monterrey – and could face competition from Valencia and Boca Juniors for his services.

Steve Bruce boasts extensive contacts throughout Central and South America, and was credited with an interest in the 41-times-capped Suazo both last summer and during the latest transfer window.

Instead, the 29-year-old joined Spanish club Real Zaragoza on a five-month loan in January, and his six goals in 17 appearances helped the Primera Liga strugglers avoid relegation.

Suazo, who has hit an impressive 182 goals in 268 appearances in his club career, and Zaragoza were keen to make the move permanent when the loan ends on May 31, but a pre-arranged fee of around £8.5m was quickly increased to £12m, with Monterrey wary of the player’s

imminent participation at the World Cup – he is expected to be fit after a recent shoulder injury, despite missing Wednesday’s friendly against Israel – and the effect a string of impressive performances in South Africa could have on pushing up his price.

Outraged at the sudden increase, Zaragoza sporting manager Antonio Prieto demanded the Mexicans honour the original agreement for a player crowned the world’s top goalscorer by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics in 2006.

But Monterrey are holding out for the higher amount, and though the club’s vice president Luis Miguel Salvador yesterday insisted that “no information of an official offer” has been received, sources in Spain and Argentina claim Valencia and Boca Juniors are interested.

The La Liga outfit are on the lookout for replacements for David Villa after selling the Spanish international to Barcelona for £30m, and Nikola Zigic, who this week joined Birmingham City for £6m.

Boca’s new manager Claudio Borghi has already expressed a desire to work with Suazo, whom he coached at Colo-Colo of Chile, in 2006-07.

For Sunderland’s part, The Journal understands they have been running continual checks on the forward prior to and throughout his spell in Spain, and with Bruce operating without a clearly-defined upper limit to his summer transfer budget, Monterrey’s asking price would not present a significant problem.

Indeed, the prospective close-season spending at the Stadium of Light – where Paraguayan Cristian Riveros has already arrived on a free transfer – appears to be close to getting under way, with the agent of Marcos Angeleri confirming yesterday that Sunderland have made an offer in the region of £2m for the Argentinian international right-back.

Bruce originally wanted to turn Alan Hutton’s loan spell on Wearside into a permanent switch, only to discover Tottenham Hotspur are holding out for £9m for the Scotland international.

So he is understood to have turned his attention to 27-year-old Angeleri, whose agent Miguel Pires claims he is set for talks with his client’s club, Estudiantes, then Sunderland.

“In the next few days I’ll be meeting with Estudiantes’ officials to let them know about Sunderland’s proposal,” Pires said.

“If they agree to transfer the player for the amount that’s being offered I’ll travel to England to meet with Sunderland’s board members.”

Meanwhile, Darren Bent’s chances of making Fabio Capello’s 23-man World Cup squad have received a boost after the Sunderland striker overcame the hamstring injury that ruled him out of Monday’s friendly win over Mexico.

He will now hope to play some part in Sunday’s final warm-up match against Japan in Austria.

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