Sunderland have identified FIVE priority positions in the transfer market to bolster Sam Allardyce’s ranks this summer, writes Ross Gregory.
Allardyce has held discussions with chairman Ellis Short over Sunderland’s strategy for this summer, and both the transfer and wage budgets which will be at the Black Cats manager’s disposal to strengthen the squad.
But the Gazette understands that Sunderland have already informed agents that they are concentrating on five main positions this summer, aside from the possible returns of loanees Yann M’Vila and DeAndre Yedlin.
A striker, attacking midfielder/winger, box-to-box midfielder, full-back and centre-half are all on Allardyce’s wish-list.
Sunderland need a new frontman to complement Jermain Defoe after the departure of out-of-contract pair Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham in the January transfer window, plus the end of Dame N’Doye’s loan spell.
They have made enquiries about West Ham United forward Diafra Sakho, but the Hammers will play hardball over the price tag.
Despite Sunderland shelling out £9million on Wahbi Khazri in January, the Black Cats still want a creative player to join the Tunisian, Duncan Watmore and Fabio Borini as wide attacking options, with Jeremain Lens expected to depart this summer.
Allardyce is a fan of Swansea’s Andre Ayew – a big target for Sunderland in the January window – to address that role, but it is still very early days for the Ghanaian international’s possible switch from the Liberty Stadium.
The exit of loanee Ola Toivonen and possible departure of Seb Larsson leaves Allardyce short on options in the middle of the park, where he has been linked with a move for out-of-contract Bordeaux midfielder Clement Chantome.
With Yedlin leaving, Patrick van Aanholt and Billy Jones are currently the only senior full-backs available to Allardyce, with the latter struggling for form before losing his place in February.
Out-of-contract Lorient right-back Lamine Gassama – who Sunderland approached in January – could again be an option for the Black Cats, while he has also been linked with Crystal Palace’s Martin Kelly.
And with the curtain expected to fall on Wes Brown’s Sunderland career this summer at the end of his Stadium of Light contract, Allardyce will need another centre-half to compete with Lamine Kone, Younes Kaboul and captain John O’Shea.