Sunderland are set to clinch a double defensive signing before the weekend – but will have to increase their bid for Jozy Altidore if they are to land the American striker.
Le Havre defender Benjamin Mendy is due on Wearside for a medical in the next few days while Velez Sarsfield right-back Gino Peruzzi will also fly to England after Sunderland met the Argentinian club’s £3.5m asking price.
With former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone’s capture set to be announced today(WED), Sunderland are edging closer to Paolo Di Canio’s wish of having his entire new-look squad in place in time for the start of the meaningful pre-season action. That will be a major boost for the manager, who knows he needs to bed down a new squad in time for their season opener against Fulham on August 17.
However, they will have to raise their initial bid for AZ Alkmaar’s Altidore from the £5m they offered if they are to have any chance of signing the former Hull striker. Sunderland also have an interest in Matej Vydra but are waiting to hear whether Udinese are willing to loan him out again.
Altidore appears to be the prime target and the striker himself is understood to be very keen to join Sunderland, who are almost certain to up their offer.
There is also interest from Italy and Germany in the forward.
However, he wants to come back to the Premier League, believing he has “unfinished business” after an ordinary spell with Hull as a teenager.
They will need to after the Eredivisie club confirmed the initial bid was not enough.
An Alkmaar spokesman said: “The first offer was not sufficient. We have to know. Now it’s wait and see.”
Di Canio will welcome the majority of his players back to Wearside for the start of pre-season today.
Having made fitness and conditioning the number one priority of his new- look side, it will be a crucial time for the Black Cats. The Sunderland boss will put his players through their paces over the next few weeks but that has met with a ringing endorsement from defender Carlos Cuellar, who thinks it is a positive as Sunderland look to make a flying start to the new campaign.
He said: “The way we’ll approach this pre-season, I think it will make us a lot stronger physically.
“In the last few games of last season you could see the players pick up little injuries or cramp because we were working so hard to win every match.
“Sometimes, you give more than 100 per cent and we didn’t have that extra fitness we needed. I don’t think we’re going to have that problem next year.”