Dick Advocaat eyes Sunderland transfer progress in next two weeks

Belgium's Nicolas Lombaerts (left) up against Wales' Gareth Bale last month
Belgium's Nicolas Lombaerts (left) up against Wales' Gareth Bale last month
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Dick Advocaat expects Sunderland to make progress in the transfer market over the next fortnight, with the club locked in talks to agree fees for Nicolas Lombaerts and Jeremain Lens.

Sunderland are unlikely to add to their squad before the Black Cats head to North America for their three-match pre-season tour on Sunday, with no deal on the verge of being completed.

I’m looking for players that I know will make the team better

Dick Advocaat

However, Advocaat is hopeful that there will be further additions by the time Sunderland return home 12 days later, with the head coach eyeing another three or four captures to complement summer signings Sebastian Coates and Adam Matthews.

The Echo understands that Sunderland are in advanced talks with both Zenit St Petersburg and Dynamo Kiev respectively for centre-half Lombaerts and left winger Lens.

The Eastern European sides are thought to be open to selling the pair, yet they are both haggling with Sunderland over the asking price.

Sunderland also remain in the hunt for West Ham winger Stewart Downing, with Advocaat and sporting director Lee Congerton’s primary focus on the final third of the pitch.

But there are doubts at Sunderland over whether the emotional pull of returning to boyhood club Middlesbrough will see Downing take the surprising decision to drop into the Championship.

Advocaat inevitably wants to make inroads sooner, rather than later, yet signing players who instantly improve the pedigree of the starting XI is more important to the ex-Holland manager than the timing of their arrival.

He told the Echo: “We will definitely have some more by then (the time they return from North America) or there is something wrong.

“But then on the other hand, If I cannot get the right players, I don’t buy them.

“I don’t like to waste money.

“I’m looking for players that I know will make the team better. That’s it, not the same level, a little bit better.

“I buy players for a certain position, because I know what I want.”

Advocaat refused to be drawn on any names who are on Sunderland’s radar.

But he appeared to allude to the problem Sunderland are facing with both Lens and Lombaerts by admitting selling clubs on the Continent are demanding premium prices to sanction moves to the Premier League.

“It’s great very quiet at the moment with buying new players,” he added.

“But for the teams abroad, when you try to get a player, they think the money is there so they ask for so many pounds.

“It’s very difficult.

“I know what I want, but it is not so easy to get them in.

“We have several things going on at the moment, but not so close that they are nearly signing.”