RIVER Plate are now favourites to land Sunderland target Lucas Orban, as they look to buy out the remainder of the left-back’s contract.
But while Sunderland’s chase for Orban has stalled, the Black Cats are hopeful of sealing a move for his fellow full-back Benjamin Mendy before the end of the week.
SportMail understands Argentine defender Orban is yet to make a concrete decision on his future after Sunderland have spent the bulk of the summer targeting the 22-year-old.
Yet it is looking increasingly likely that Orban will remain in his homeland, rather than move to Europe, where both Sunderland are Spanish side Villarreal are keen on the Club Atletico Tigre man.
River Plate own 50 per cent of Orban’s contract and they have publicly confirmed that they want to buy out Tigre’s remaining stake in the player.
Orban’s representatives remain keen to secure a move to the Premier League, but his family are thought to favour a return to River after he came through the club’s ranks before moving to Tigre last summer.
Should Sunderland miss out on Orban, they will be forced to consider alternative left-backs, despite the imminent arrival of Mendy. The 18-year-old is due on Wearside this week to discuss personal terms over his switch from Le Havre after the French club accepted an offer for the defender.
France Under-19 international Mendy is highly-rated and Sunderland will beat off competition from the likes of Lyon, Marseille and Juventus if they can capture the defender.
But Mendy’s experience is limited to the French Second Division and with no other left-backs on Sunderland’s books, the Black Cats will still need to bolster their options there.
Sunderland’s resources at right-back have not been much better with only Phil Bardsley - still likely to leave the Stadium of Light this summer - on the books.
Yet Argentina international Gino Peruzzi is edging ever closer to becoming a Sunderland player, with widespread reports in his homeland that the Velez Sarsfeld man’s move to Wearside is all but sealed.
Peruzzi would set Sunderland back around £4m, but is expected to be Paolo Di Canio’s first-choice in the position next season.
Meanwhile, French youngster El-Hadji Ba should be unveiled as a Sunderland player before the end of the week.
The midfielder claimed last month that he was joining the Black Cats on a three-year deal, yet there has still not been any confirmation of the move from either Sunderland or Ba’s previous employers Le Havre.
That has been due to an issue of compensation, with Le Havre due to be financially reimbursed for the out-of-contract 20-year-old.
But the two clubs are on the verge of reaching a settlement now and Ba’s signing is due to be confirmed by Sunderland.