SUNDERLAND’S attempts to exploit the Italian market will lead to a follow-up bid for Inter Milan prospect Alfred Duncan next week.
The Black Cats have had a bid of around £5million turned down for the Ghana midfielder, who is regarded as one of the club’s most promising young players. But Italian sources have indicated that new chief scout Valentino Angeloni has posted a ringing endorsement of the youngster and has advised another offer closer to the Italian giants’ £7million asking price.
Sunderland owner Ellis Short has made a significant transfer fund available to Paolo Di Canio and his new-look scouting team this summer, but there is an instruction there to seek value – unless they can raise significant money through sales.
That has prompted the club to entertain potential interest in Stéphane Sessègnon among others, although the signing of players like Duncan would not be dependent on departures.
Short’s demand is that no more players whose value depreciates immediately should be signed on long contracts, but there may be leeway when it comes to younger players like Duncan.
Sunderland’s exhaustive attempts to recruit virtually an entirely new starting XI this summer have no doubt caused supporters’ heads to spin, with almost daily links emerging to players based in Italy and France – the chosen markets of the club’s new recruitment team.
The reality of the situation is that Sunderland have a core group of targets, and many of the other links are merely enquiries made on behalf of the club by former agent Roberto Di Fanti, who is the club’s Director of Football.
As you would expect, Di Fanti is using his extensive contacts to try and secure deals for as many new recruits as possible.
The Journal understands that there may be up to 10 new faces when Sunderland return for pre-season training in July – a remarkably swift turnover given the ponderous pace with which the club conducted business under Martin O’Neill.
In this environment, agents are understandably using Sunderland’s name to promote their clients, and links with Johan Elmander can be placed in that category.
Duncan represents a cast-iron target, however, along with Livorno forward Paulinho and Lazio full-back Luis Pedro Cavanda, who has been earmarked as a replacement for the departing Phil Bardsley.
Di Canio’s stated desire to completely rebuild the squad was voiced with full knowledge that this would be a whirlwind summer for the club, and it has proved to be just that.
Saint-Etienne midfielder Josuha Guilavogui is another player that Sunderland have enquired about but at the moment their main area of interest appears to surround 20-year-old Duncan, who has one senior cap for Ghana and spent the second half of last season at Livorno.
Other names linked to the Black Cats include Palermo striker Abel Hernandez and Inter Milan’s Joel Obi – whose agent confirmed Sunderland were one of a number of Premier League clubs monitoring his client.
Another long-term Sunderland target, Mauro Zarate, would be interested in a move to the Black Cats, according to his agent.
Luis Ruzzi said: “Sunderland would be a viable solution because they are a great club and the Premier League is an attractive option.”
The Argentinian striker, currently with Lazio, spent half of the 2007-08 season on loan at Birmingham City.