Cardiff City and Hull have emerged as potential escape routes for Lee Cattermole, the Sunderland captain who has been told he is surplus to requirements as part of Paolo Di Canio’s wide-ranging Stadium of Light revolution.
Friends of the midfielder have revealed he was told a fortnight ago he was free to find a new club – along with Stéphane Sessègnon and defender Phil Bardsley, who are also set to leave Wearside.
Sessègnon was linked with a big-money move to China over the weekend but sources close to the player have indicated he wants to stay in Europe. The forward was understood to prefer to stay at the Stadium of Light, but it appears Di Canio is prepared to let him go – which has alerted clubs in France and Russia.
He has also been offered to several Premier League clubs – and Marseille.
It is a surprise Sunderland are happy to listen to offers for the Benin forward, but the Black Cats need to raise money to carry out the wide-ranging surgery they want to perform on the squad.
It is a measure of the changing direction at the Stadium of Light that Cattermole has been told he can go if a satisfactory offer comes in for him. Steve Bruce’s Hull City – who are set to pounce for Ahmed Elmohamady this summer – will have an interest, while Cardiff, who already have Cattermole’s friend Andrew Taylor and ex-Black Cats team-mate Fraizer Campbell on board, may also make a move.
Two years ago Cattermole was sounded out about interest from Liverpool but a succession of injuries – as well as high-profile red cards – have seen his stock fall.
The departure of Martin O’Neill, who lobbied hard to get Cattermole a new contract last season, was also a blow.
In October last year he signed a deal which would take him through to 2016 and there is no obligation for him to move on.
However, the midfielder is not the sort to sit back and collect his money and he will want to play – which now looks in jeopardy following Di Canio’s decision to go elsewhere.
The Italian is understood to have told players who he wants to sign he wants his team to be quick, attack-minded and very physically fit.
He wants more of a contribution from his midfield and there is a very real interest in Inter Milan’s Alfred Duncan – with the Ghana squad at the World Under-20 Championship – who is keen to talk to Di Canio about the move.
So far Inter have resisted Sunderland’s overtures, but there is increasing confidence on Wearside the move may be pushed through by the time the Black Cats report for pre-season next month.
Sunderland hope to make tangible progress in the hunt for a new striker this week, with Di Canio understood to want up to three new forwards on board for next season – depending on what the future holds for Danny Graham and Connor Wickham. They have an interest in John Guidetti – a long-term target – and the fact he used to represented by Roberto De Fanti, Sunderland’s newly-appointed director of football, will undoubtedly have an influence on any deal for the Manchester City striker.
However, they also want a front-line ‘big name’ forward to operate alongside Steven Fletcher, who Di Canio has big plans for next year.
Enquiries have been made about both AZ Alkmaar and United States striker Jozy Altidore and Udinese’s Czech Republic front man Matej Vydra, who spent last season at Watford.