Sunderland are not ready to give up on a move for Fabio Borini despite claims from his agent he wants to stay at Anfield and fight for his Liverpool future.
The Black Cats have drawn up a list of alternative striker targets understood to include Arsenal striker Joel Campbell, who Sunderland are ready to make a loan move for later in the summer.
However, £14million-rated Borini remains at the top of any list of summer recruits, manager Gus Poyet seemingly desperate to persuade him to fly back from America to hear his vision for next season.
There is a suspicion at the Stadium of Light Borini and his agent are jockeying for position and are trying to use the club’s obvious interest him as leverage for a better deal – or to at least flush out whether there is other interest in the player.
However, an unperturbed Sunderland seem intent on trying to push through a move for a star they believe could make a real difference to their squad building efforts.
The Black Cats want to at least map out their ambitions for next season and believe the striker will be interested.
Earlier in the week Borini’s agent Marco De Marchi said: “He wants to remain on Merseyside.
“Sunderland have made a large offer of €18 million to sign him, but Fabio wants to stay (at Liverpool).
“His project with Liverpool started two years ago when he left Roma - he began a journey and it is a major project for him.”
If they fail to land Borini there may be a double blow Sunderland, Fiorentina having apparently decided not to sell Marcos Alonso to them. They have rejected another offer from the Black Cats, who want to include Mo Diakite in any deal to take him to the Stadium of Light, and have now let it be known he will be part of their plans next season.
That would be a huge blow to Sunderland’s plans for next season – although they have also made tentative enquiries about former loan star Danny Rose, who appears out of favour at Tottenham.
Meanwhile, Real Betis remain keen on signing Alfred N’Diaye, who played at Darlington on Saturday.
President Manuel Dominguez is keen on brokering the deal.
He said: “Alfred has proved himself to be a quality player and he could be of help to us to achieve our goal,.
“It is complicated, but we are still working on it, we haven’t given up.
“N’Diaye has not been transferred nor have Sunderland made any indication they want him, so all options are open. It is complicated but not impossible.
“We will not relent in this effort but will continue until there is nothing else we can do.”