SUNDERLAND have moved closer to signing Liam Bridcutt after the Brighton midfielder handed in a transfer request yesterday.
The former Chelsea trainee has been a major part of the South Coast club’s rise since joining them in 2010, and ex-Brighton boss Gus Poyet is a big admirer of the player.
Both clubs are refusing to talk publicly about the Bridcutt situation, apart from Seagulls manager Oscar Garcia saying he wants to keep as strong a squad as possible together with Brighton still in touch with the Championship play-off places.
But Bridcutt’s move has upped the stakes considerably, and clearly shows that the 24-year-old sees his future away from the Amex Stadium.
Sunderland are already reported to have had a £2m plus bid for Bridcutt rejected, along with a £1m plus offer for his team-mate, winger Will Buckley.
But Poyet told the Gazette earlier this week that he is working tremendously hard on transfer moves behind the scenes, and the pursuit of Bridcutt is likely to have been part of that work.
Last night he was staying tight-lipped about the player’s situation.
When it was mentioned to him in the post-match Press conference after the Man United game, he replied: “Liam Bridcutt putting in a transfer request? It’s nothing to do with me,” before moving swiftly on.
But there seems little doubt that Sunderland are determined to land the player around whom much of Brighton’s play revolved during his time at the club.
And if Sunderland are successful in their pursuit of Bridcutt, that is likely to place the future of former skipper Lee Cattermole at the Stadium of Light in increasing doubt.
Sunderland are looking to ship players out, as well as in, and there has been plenty of speculation over several of their established first-team players, including Cattermole, Phil Bardsley and Steven Fletcher.
One player though who seems certain to leave Sunderland is former Basel midfielder Cabral, who was signed last summer, but has played in only two games for the club, and none since August.
The Gazette understands that the 25-year-old flew out to Italy yesterday for talks with Genoa, which are expected to end with the player joining the Serie A outfit on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent move.