De Fanti a key man for Sunderland

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SUNDERLAND are expected to make clear this week what role Roberto De Fanti will occupy at the club.

The Italian football agent has been touted over the weekend in various media as the club’s new director of football, although it remains unclear whether he will take up that position, become the club’s new chief scout or even take on a role as football consultant.

What seems certain though is that the FIFA-licensed agent has been an important figure behind the scenes at Sunderland in recent times, with some crediting him with the role of king-maker in the recent appointment of Paolo Di Canio.

The Italian, who is the agent of ex-Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong and current Man City striker John Guidetti, has been known to chairman Ellis Short for some time and his connection with Sunderland therefore pre-dates that of his countryman Di Canio.

His emergence into the public spotlight is likely to pre-empt the next stage of a major overhaul of the club’s management structure, which last week saw confirmation that chief scout Pop Robson and his assistants had been sacked.

Sunderland were specific upon the appointment of Di Canio at the end of last month in insisting that his job title was head coach rather than manager.

The implication was that Short – known to have grown disillusioned with the value he was receiving for money in recent transfer windows – wanted to separate the jobs of managing the club from that of recruiting for the club.

That would imply the creation of a director of football, with the new man charged with the task of looking for the best possible players to fill whatever shortcomings Di Canio might identify in the Sunderland squad – Di Canio himself having insisted he has been given assurances he will have the final say on who will and will not be signed.

With De Fanti currently being a FIFA agent though, it remains to be seen what possible complications or controversies this role might cause, should be given it.

So far, the club has only commented: “We are working through a number of changes leading to the appointment of a chief scout.”

It may be that in any senior role De Fanti takes up at the Stadium of Light, he has to give an undertaking not to be personally involved in the processing of transfers. But fans can expect De Fanti’s involvement with the club will soon be revealed and that he will be a major player in Sunderland’s future.