Sunderland have missed out on one of their top transfer targets and have lost ground in the race for another, but they could be back in for Valencia left-back Aly Cissokho as their recruitment drive restarts.
Striker Matej Vydra yesterday joined West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan deal – prompting talk of Sunderland interest in Lazio’s Sergio Floccari – while Hull City have agreed a fee for Tom Huddlestone.
But France defender Cissokho could be back on the market. The Black Cats made nine signings before returning from their pre-season training camp in Italy, but progress has stalled since as the club’s recruitment team took a step back to assess the squad.
The arrival on a season-long loan of right-back Ondrej Celustka on Monday showed the wheels are starting to turn again, and Cissokho has re-emerged as a genuine possibility with confusion in Liverpool over their interest in the 25-year-old.
There have been mixed messages from Anfield about the left-back situation this summer, but the latest indication is Granada’s Guilherme Siqueira is now their primary target. Cissokho was thought to have agreed terms with Liverpool but talk of Siqueira suggests their interest in the France international has waned. With former Newcastle United player Jose Enrique at the club, it would seem to be a straight choice between the two.
Cissokho has long been on Sunderland’s list in the protracted search for a specialist left-back.
Although financially-stricken Valencia are willing to sell, the Wearsiders, like Liverpool, are thought to prefer a loan with a view to a permanent transfer. Rival interest from Besiktas, and Cissokho’s wage demands, means a move to the Stadium of Light is far from guaranteed, even if Liverpool do drop out of the race for a player who has long been linked with the Premier League.
With Phil Bardsley, who suffered a suspected broken foot in a reserve-team friendly this week, told he has no future at the club, Celustka is effectively Sunderland’s only specialist full-back, and even he is being borrowed from Trabzonspor.
Having played there throughout pre-season Jack Colback is expected to start at left-back when Sunderland’s season kicks off at home to Fulham on Saturday, but the midfielder is refusing to sign a new contract. Sunderland had shown an interest in Udinese’s Vydra, who scored 22 goals in last season’s Championship on loan at Watford. But he will now partner Nicolas Anelka at the Hawthorns after agreeing a move yesterday.
Reports in Italy suggest a £2.6m bid has been lodged for Lazio striker Floccari. He scored ten goals and made seven more last season, but is behind Miroslav Klose and Libor Kozak in the pecking order.
As a boyhood fan and former player, coach Paolo Di Canio is well versed on the talent available at Lazio, as are his Italian recruitment team. They will also know the 31-year-old is in the last year of his contract at the Stadio Olimpico. Sunderland have already signed Modibo Diakite from the Romans this summer.
Di Canio has targeted a pacey English player to complete his midfield this season, although elegant Tottenham Hotspur player Huddlestone meets only the second criteria. Hull have agreed a club record ï¿½5m fee for Huddlestone.
Meanwhile, James McClean has claimed Di Canio tried to talk him out of leaving Sunderland. The winger took a pay cut to join Wigan Athletic.
“I know it’s been said Sunderland got rid of me, but that’s not the case,” he said. “I just needed to play regular football and I felt it was time for a fresh start. He (Di Canio) was understanding.”