SUNDERLAND’S goalkeeping ranks look set to be boosted by the arrival of Arsenal stopper Vito Mannone, with the Black Cats moving a step closer to landing the Italian.
Reports yesterday suggested Sunderland had reached an agreement with the Gunners for Mannone, who finds himself third in the pecking order at the Emirates.
This week’s departure of Simon Mignolet to Liverpool has left Sunderland with Keiren Westwood as the only senior keeper on the club’s books.
Academy product Jordan Pickford, who was third-choice last season, is highly-rated by the club, but the 19-year-old’s first-team experience has been limited to loan spells in the Blue Square Premier so far.
Mannone is likely to be a back-up to Westwood next season, with the Republic of Ireland international expected to be granted his chance as No1.
He was limited to three Capital One Cup appearances last season, and had Mignolet not left, Westwood may have headed for the exit.
Mannone would offer an alternative, as player who has experienced both Premier League and European football.
The 25-year-old has made 26 appearances for Arsenal since joining the Gunners from Atalanta at 17, including nine league starts last season.
Mannone enjoyed spells on loan in the Championship with Hull City in 2010-11 and 2011-12, but the Italian has just a year left on his Arsenal contract.
Sunderland, along with Everton, were also linked with a move for Bolton winger Lee Chung-Yong yesterday.
But it is understood that there has been no contact between Sunderland and the Championship outfit for the South Korean.
Meanwhile, reports in Italy have suggested that Sunderland have held another round of talks over Inter Milan midfielder Alfred Duncan.
Sunderland have already seen one bid rejected for the 20-year-old, who is rated in the £7m bracket by the Italian giants.
But the Black Cats remain interested in the Ghanaian international, and reportedly conducted discussions with Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio yesterday.