Portuguese star Manuel Fernandes is the latest player to be linked with a move to Sunderland as Paolo Di Canio continues his search for a creative midfielder.
Di Canio has already made nine signings this summer but is keen to add another playmaker before the season kicks off on August 17. And Fernandes, who currently plays for Turkish side Besiktas, is understood to be among the options the Black Cats are considering.
The 27-year-old began his career in his homeland before moving to Spain and then Turkey, but he also has Premier League experience after spending three loan spells in England with Portsmouth and Everton.
He has just entered the final year of his contract at Besiktas and the club is ready to offer him a new deal, with the Black Eagles’ president Fikret Orman claiming that the player wants to stay.
“Fernandes is going to extend his contract, there is no problem, he is happy here and wants to stay,” said Orman.
But now that Sunderland have expressed an interest, Fernandes may decide his future lies in the Premier League.
Fernandes began his career at Benfica, winning the Portuguese cup in 2004, and the league and supercup the following season, and also spent four years in Spain with Valencia before moving to Turkey two years ago.
While a Benfica player, he spent the first half of the 2006-07 season at Portsmouth, making 10 appearances, but the £12m asking price meant that Pompey boss Harry Redknapp opted not to make the move permanent.
Fernandes returned to Portugal but then reappeared in England to spend the second half of that season at Everton, where he went on to make another nine appearances and score two goals.
Everton tried to sign him that summer, but the deal did not come to fruition and Fernandes joined Valencia for £12.2m instead.
He spent another loan spell at Everton in 2008 before going back to Valencia, who then allowed him to join Besiktas on loan for the second half of the 2010-11 campaign.
Fernandes – who has been capped nine times by his country, scoring two goals – joined Besiktas on a permanent basis for a cut-price £1.75m that summer.
Aside from an attacking midfielder, Di Canio also wants to add two full-backs during the transfer window, but is finding it difficult to fill those vacancies.
Sunderland have already missed out on one target, left-back Benjamin Mendy, who chose to join Marseille instead of the Black Cats.
A second target, Argentinian right-back Gino Peruzzi, saw his move to Wearside fall through due to a failed medical.
And now a third target, Argentinian left-back Lucas Orban, has decided to join Bordeaux.
Meanwhile, defender John O’Shea is backing Di Canio’s new faces to bring a new dimension to Sunderland’s attacking play.
The experienced former Manchester United man said: “The quality of players that the manager has brought in is pleasing.
“(Former Juventus midfielder Emanuele) Giaccherini has not been here long, but already you can see he’s got that bit of class.
“His link-up play with the strikers looks good, and if we can get him fully fit and get Jozy Altidore banging in goals, alongside Sess (Stephane Sessegnon), who’s looking fantastic, it’s going to be exciting.
“We have got a lot more attacking options than we have had before – the new players, (Steven) Fletcher when he comes back, (Connor) Wickham and Ji (Dong-Won), who’s come back from Germany looking a lot sharper.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition for places, which can only be a good thing and should see us push our way up the table.”