SUNDERLAND are running the rule over highly-rated Zambian international centre-half Stoppila Sunzu.
The 23-year-old, who is determined to move to the Premier League this summer, is attracting the interest of Reading as well as Arsenal, and he was at the Stadium of Light on Saturday to take in the Gunners’ visit to the North East.
The 6ft 3ins defender, who plays his club football for Congolese side TP Mazembe, was called up by his country last month for the African Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa.
But he was allowed to leave from there to train with Reading with a view to a permanent move – Sunzu previously trained with the Berkshire club in 2007, but at the time was unable to secure a work permit.
That spell ended inconclusively and somewhat controversially – Sunzu suggesting he is now a free agent, while TP Mazembe insist he is under contract until 2015, and they rate him in the £4m bracket.
And while those issues are being resolved, Sunderland are monitoring the situation of the player, who became a national hero in 2012 when he helped Zambia win their first-ever African Cup of Nations title.
Last year’s final against the Ivory Coast in Libreville, Gabon ended 0-0 and went to penalties, with Zambia eventually winning 7-6 when Gervinho shot wide and Sunzu stepped up to slot home the winning spot-kick.
One year on, Sunzu is hoping to earn himself a move to the English Premier League to move on to the next stage of his career.
With 37 caps for his country a work permit should no longer be a problem for the imposing centre-half, who has made it clear he wants to leave his present club.
His agent, Scotsman Paul Carew, is currently looking to negotiate a move for the player.
But with Reading failing to agree anything as thing stand, and Arsenal yet to show their hand, Sunderland will look to press home their interest if Martin O’Neill is convinced Sunzu is a player who could make a real impact at Premier League level.