Sunderland are aiming to make a ‘statement’ signing this summer as well as bolstering their squad with a flurry of free agents.
The Black Cats have brokered moves for three free transfers so far – Billy Jones, Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon.
However, owner Ellis Short has cleared funds to offer a major signing and Sunderland intend to make a improved offer for Ashley Williams this week after the return of key figures at Swansea from holiday.
The Black Cats are also intending to table an offer in the region of £9million for Liverpool’s Fabio Borini if they receive encouragement from the Reds, who have floated the idea of including him as a makeweight in any deal struck with Southampton for England midfielder Adam Lallana.
However, there are understood to be a clutch of other targets identified by the Black Cats both at home and abroad who would move Sunderland’s recruitment to the next level.
A key part of the club’s end-of-season discussions included a recognition the club needed to change its personnel and attitude to aim for more than simply survival – and the only way that could be done was by importing players of better calibre.
Although there is a budget which needs to be stuck to, Short has given the green light to a ‘statement signing’ over the close season to help fast-track this process.
Sporting director Lee Congerton believes Williams – if secured – would give the Black Cats a top- level Premier League-ready performer who could take them through the gears.
There is a feeling of a fresh start at the Stadium of Light after a number of key departures from the club and that was furthered by Gus Poyet’s weekend comments about trying to devise a red and white identity for next season.
Poyet has already informed the Academy staff he wants the development teams to ape the formation and style of the first team from tnext season and there is a sense he wants to develop the club.
Poyet said: “Players coming to this club in the future will understand they are coming to a club where there is a certain way of playing. An identity.”