Sunderland close in on £6m striker Jozy Altidore

Sunderland's pursuit of Jozy Altidore is set to end today with the US striker due on Wearside to seal a £6m move

Jozy Altidore
Jozy Altidore

Sunderland's pursuit of Jozy Altidore is set to end today with the US striker due on Wearside to seal a £6m move.

The Black Cats agreed a fee with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar over the weekend.

And Altidore is expected to arrive in the North East today to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical with the Wearsiders.

Former Villarreal frontman Altidore was Sunderland’s main attacking transfer target this summer, with his 31 goals for Alkmaar last season turning heads across Europe.

At least one other Premier League team showed interest in the 23-year-old, as did clubs in Germany and Italy. Sunderland’s initial bid for the USA international was rejected but they returned with an improved offer at the end of last week, and it proved too good a deal for Alkmaar to turn down.

News of the transfer first appeared on Altidore’s personal website, which said the clubs had agreed a fee and the player was on his way to Wearside.

That announcement was quickly removed, but Alkmaar later revealed the move on their own official website.

The club said in a statement: “AZ Alkmaar and Sunderland have reached an agreement on the transfer of Jozy Altidore. If the 23-year old forward reaches agreement with the Premier League club and passes the medical examination, he will sign a multi-year contract in England.”

Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio was desperate to add more firepower to the squad he inherited towards the end of last season, and will be delighted that director of football Roberto De Fanti has landed his top target.

Once Altidore (pictured right) has completed his move, he will link up with Di Canio and his squad in northern Italy where they have travelled for a pre-season training camp prior to their trip to Hong Kong to compete in the Barclays Asia Trophy later this month.

The squad flew out yesterday for a 10-day intensive fitness camp, which Di Canio sees as an essential part of the players’ preparations.

“I expect hard work in Italy, as usual, because this is the moment that we can build a fantastic season,” he said.

“We need to work hard to build a good atmosphere and to increase strength and the power and resistance.

“They [the players] also need the desire to challenge and compete once the season begins.

“We can help them build up strength, but also self-belief which comes from the brain, the heart and from your character.

“It is an exchange between body and brain that helps you believe in what you are doing and that you can beat your opponent.

“Pre-season is an important time for that, and also for the squad to bond together.

“We will live together all day for 10 days, including after the training sessions

“And that is crucial because if something goes wrong or someone doesn’t understand something that I want from him, I can talk to him.” Di Canio puts great emphasis on physical fitness, and felt that the squad he took over at the end of March was lacking in that department. But he intends to ensure his players are in tip-top shape when the Premier League season kicks-off on August 17.

He said: “I am not a masochist, but the players will tire in games – it will happen, it will happen often, especially against clubs like Manchester United who keep the ball 70 minutes out of 90.

“You have to run, resist and keep your concentration high.

“You can only do that if you adapt to fatigue, and that means going over your limits.

“Otherwise it is difficult to become a better footballer.”



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