Sunderland will re-launch their efforts to sign two full-backs this week after finally concluding their pursuit of Argentina defender Gino Peruzzi.
Barring any unexpected exits, Black Cats boss Paolo Di Canio wants two more defenders and a midfielder before ending his extensive summer recruitment drive – but has decided against brokering a deal for Peruzzi after problems were uncovered with his medical.
The club made contact with Velez Sarsfield yesterday afternoon after further communications from the club in Argentina that suggested the deal may be able to be resurrected. That proved not to be the case, with Sunderland understood to have a target currently playing in Ligue 1 identified as a possible right-back recruit.
There are other irons in the fire for the Black Cats, who have also made contact with Valencia’s Aly Cissokho and have received a favourable response from the France international left-back. Liverpool remain serious contenders to sign the £3.5million-rated defender.
The urgency of Sunderland’s need for full-backs was emphasised by their line-up as they beat Tottenham in impressive fashion out in Hong Kong yesterday. Once again Craig Gardner and Jack Colback took those berths and, while both performed admirably, Di Canio wants specialist full-backs this season.
There may also be the unexpected bonus of Sunderland being able to call on Wes Brown this season after Di Canio revealed that the player had rejected the offer of a pay-off to prove himself at the Stadium of Light.
Brown scored the second goal for the Black Cats in their 3-1 win over Spurs and looked in fine shape considering a lay-off which meant that he did not play at all last season.
Di Canio paid tribute to the former Manchester United man, and said it was also a testament to his fitness coaches that Brown looks to be back on track.
“The club had a conversation with him, but with his strong character, he said: ‘I feel a footballer, I want to stay here and prove it’,” he said.
“Because I’m an intelligent manager, I didn’t have any preclusion to anyone doing that. He was the perfect professional to have in a squad and what a player. He hasn’t stopped for one minute in a training session. My pre-season is very tough, but he hasn’t had any problems.”
Di Canio was happy with the way his team performed in Hong Kong but warned them once again that they had not proved anything with the defeat of Spurs. They will take on Manchester City on Saturday in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy.
Di Canio said: “I’m very happy. I saw many things that I wanted to see. We started to develop the identity that I want and even though the pitch didn’t help, we did many good things that I am happy with. We will adjust many things to complete the process of becoming a team with a clear identity, but I am happy.
“Now we have a mix of footballers who can play in different positions and a mix of different strategies. I have talked about attacking players but I also liked the way we built from the back.
“We saw many good things but we have done nothing yet. We moved one big step forward but the process of becoming a very good squad will have to continue. If we fall into the trap of thinking we are the best in the division then we will fall back.
“If they continue this humble attitude in training of learning, we will all have a lot of satisfaction this year.”