SUNDERLAND look to be closing in on Brighton winger Will Buckley after he was left out of the Seagulls’ Capital One Cup clash last night.
The Black Cats have been involved in talks with Brighton for Buckley after reviving their interest in the 24-year-old, who was the subject of a failed bid from ex-Seagulls boss Gus Poyet in the January transfer window.
Sunderland have reportedly made a bid of around £2.5m for Buckley, who still has another three years to run on his contract on the south coast.
New Brighton boss Sami Hyypia had been planning to use Buckley in last night’s League Cup first round tie against Cheltenham, yet the former Rochdale man wasn’t even included on the bench.
Poyet wants to add Buckley to the Sunderland squad, as well as main target Fabio Borini, with the head coach again reiterating yesterday that he was hopeful of signing last season’s loanee.
The Uruguayan has remained positive over Sunderland’s chances of landing Borini, yet has refused to elaborate on why the deal has dragged on and on, almost four weeks after Liverpool accepted the Black Cats’ £14m bid.
But the Gazette understands that one of the factors in the delay is that regardless of whether Borini is willing to join Sunderland permanently or not, Liverpool are currently reluctant to rubber-stamp the 23-year-old’s departure, due to their lean options up front.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers only has England pair Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert in addition to Borini after a move for ex-Newcastle United loanee Loic Remy fell through last month.
Representatives of former Chelsea frontman Samuel Eto’o have reportedly been in talks with Liverpool this week, while the Merseysiders also hold an interest in Swansea’s Wilfried Bony.
But after the departure of Luis Suarez, Rodgers is wary of also losing Borini – currently out with a shoulder injury – until a suitable replacement is signed.
“It’s still ongoing,” said Poyet. “I’m desperate (for it to happen) but it’s still ongoing.
“Fabio, for us, is important and I will tell you why.
“You can always go and spend some millions on a player, but when you know the player the way I know Fabio, how professional he is, how much he cares, the positions in which he can play and what he brings to the team and to the group...
“He has plenty of things that I really, really like. He’s professional and I think he would be fantastic for the group as well, not just because he scores goals.
“He’s a key player, which is why the agreement with Liverpool is quite a big one.”
Meanwhile, the Black Cats have also been credited with an interest in Manchester City’s Micah Richards, who has been offered to several Premier League clubs this summer.
But the £5m-rated Richards would need to take a big pay cut on his estimated £70,000 wages if he was to move to the Stadium of Light.