Gus Poyet is eyeing a January swoop for midfielder son Diego, who is currently on the books of Charlton.
The 18-year-old is understood to be one of a number of names on the preferred shortlist of Poyet, who wants to take a hands-on role in recruitment after identifying a number of areas where he feels the Black Cats’ squad is not balanced.
Charlton have indicated a desire to keep Poyet Junior, but with Ellis Short apparently willing to loosen the purse strings in the New Year – provided the management balance the books by letting some of the top- heavy squad leave – the England under-18 international is a viable target.
Although the majority of Sunderland’s January spending would be on players to aid their survival effort, Short has been willing to boost the club’s development side over the last 12 months and landing one of the country’s top prospects would justify an outlay of around £500,000.
Sunderland also need to refresh their midfield options after Roberto De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni failed to land the ‘ball-playing’ playmaker requested in the summer.
The Black Cats brought in Ki from Swansea but the Swans appear reluctant to start talking about extending his season-long loan.
It is set to be a busy January for the club after the upheaval of Paolo Di Canio’s sacking, and Poyet has spent the past week assessing what he needs to try to aid his attempts to keep the club in the Premier League.
The Journal understands Sunderland will offer Jack Colback a new long-term contract in the coming weeks, but Craig Gardner will be allowed to leave if an interested club makes an approach.
Poyet has publicly expressed a willingness to consider bringing back Alfred N’Diaye, who is on loan at Eskisehirspor.
However, that is highly unlikely, with the club facing a financial penalty if they cut the temporary move short.
Poyet wants players who are able to retain possession to make up his midfield engine room and that could see a new profile of player on the hit-list of the Black Cats manager.
That also ties in with his interest in his son, who has been identified as one of the most promising young players in England.
If Sunderland do make an approach they will face opposition from Charlton, however, who have already expressed a determination to try and keep Poyet Junior at the Valley.
Chris Powell played down talk of Poyet moving to the North East in October, claiming he club wanted to fast-track him into the first team – but the youngster is understood to have become frustrated at a lack of minutes, with a loan move also mooted.
Powell said: “Everyone is looking at Diego and looking at Gus going to Sunderland and thinking he will take his son.
“He is someone who we have an eye on to not only have a career but to be involved in this first-team squad.”
Poyet is understood to want to make several additions – but he does not believe the squad he has inherited is as bad as it first appeared.
He said: “It is difficult to place it – I cannot say they are the 14th best squad in the Premier League or the 18th best.
“What I’m sure of is we are on a par with any team below, say, the bottom 13. I don’t think we are necessarily any better or any worse than any of those bottom seven sides in the division.
“So I don’t think there is too much in it when it comes to the difference in the squads at the bottom of the table.
“We are where we are, and we need to improve.
“The good thing is there is not much difference between the bottom half-dozen teams in the league in my view.”