Sunderland are set to step up their squad-building efforts this week with the capture of former Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon.
The Journal understands that the Black Cats will hold talks with the Romania international in the next few days and are confident of making him their third signing of the summer.
The Black Cats still have plenty of work to do ahead of the new season and are looking to bring in free agents as part of a major overhaul of their squad.
Pantilimon fits the bill for players earmarked by Gustavo Poyet, possessing Premier League experience and a point to prove without boasting a costly transfer fee.
Pantilimon, who will battle Vito Mannone for the number one spot next season, is set to jet into the North East for talks in the early part of the week and Sunderland expect to unveil the signing before the end of the week.
Sunderland have money to spend on marquee signings and are interested in Fabio Borini and Ashley Williams, but they are continuing discussions with a number of free agents to supplement a squad that has been bolstered by moves for Jordi Gomez and Billy Jones.
Now they are ready to add to the squad again this week – and could be in a position to announce a new arrival in the next few days.
Although the free agents are unlikely to capture the imagination of Black Cats fans, they fulfil a vital need for the club and are solid additions as Sunderland look to make changes this summer. The club have question marks over a number of their frontline performers and both Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher may still be moved on this summer, with Liverpool linked with a surprise move for the winger over the weekend.
There remain doubts about whether Johnson has a long-term future under boss Poyet, but even if he is available, there aren’t too many teams in the Premier League who can match his sizeable wage demands.
Sunderland have a transfer budget – and want Borini to spearhead their efforts next season – but they must box clever, and Ellis Short wants to see the wage budget remain at a sensible level. Johnson is one of the biggest earners and so Sunderland would be prepared to listen to offers, even if the talk of a loan move appears to be fanciful at this point.
With Sunderland keen to extend Mannone’s contract this summer, he has spoken of the importance of making sure the John O’Shea and Wes Brown partnership remains intact next year.
The pairing was one of the successes of the Black Cats’ late revival last term, and Mannone feels that they can make a big difference if they are fit and firing from the start of the season. He certainly benefited from their experience and know-how as he became a major favourite with the Sunderland supporters.
“They have been massively important and you can see that they are so solid,” the goalkeeper said. “We have a good relationship and it’s always easy to play alongside them because they have experience and can read the game.
“Hopefully they can play for a long time.
“They have been leaders, but we have a few in the team. Of course (Brown and O’Shea) bring great experience with great careers and achievements, and we can rely on them.”