Poyet hopes to push for Rodriguez swoop

Cristian Rodriguez

Cristian Rodriguez

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GUS POYET hopes Sunderland can make a concrete move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Cristian Rodriguez.

The Sunderland boss confirmed to a Uruguayan radio station earlier this week that Rodriguez was one of the players on his radar, as he desperately looks for progress in boosting the Black Cats’ threadbare squad.

Uruguayan international Rodriguez, who featured in all four of his country’s games at the World Cup in Brazil, is eager to leave La Liga champions Atletico this summer after starting just 14 league games in the last two years in Spain.

Sunderland are yet to make a formal bid for the 28-year-old’s services, but Poyet believes he would be an ideal fit for the demands of the Premier League.

Poyet told the Echo: “This has been out for a few days and this week I had a chat with people in Uruguay, who are obviously desperate for Rodriguez to come with us.

“It’s ongoing.

“At the moment, it’s a possibility, but it’s no more than that.

“He’s a player that I admire a lot because he’s got power, desire and experience playing with the top teams.

“He wants to play football, he’s desperate to be playing week in, week out.

“There are plenty of positives, but there is something you need to do (agreeing a deal) before having a player like that available.”

Rodriguez is one of several midfielders Sunderland have been targeting after their options in the middle of the park were depleted at the end of last season by the departures of Craig Gardner, Jack Colback and Ki Sung-Yueng.

Sunderland have seen a £3.5million bid rejected for Cardiff’s Jordon Mutch, while they are among a host of top-flight clubs targeting Manchester City’s Jack Rodwell.

But midfield is not the only area where Sunderland are short, as their squad head to Portugal today for their pre-season tour.

Poyet is unable to call upon a recognised left-back, while Sunderland’s pursuit of their main target Fabio Borini continues to drag on and on.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has played down fears that the shoulder injury which forced Borini off in Wednesday night’s pre-season friendly with Roma in Boston is serious.

But Rodgers says Borini is still considering his options after Sunderland’s £14million bid was accepted by Liverpool last week.

“We’ve obviously had a substantial bid from another Premier League club, but, at this moment in time, it’s something he’s thinking about with his representatives,” said Rodgers.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have been linked with Celtic centre-half Virgil van Dijk after making a scouting trip on the Dutch defender.

Reports in Scotland have indicated that Sunderland representatives watched van Dijk in action during Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against KR Reykjavik on Tuesday.

Sunderland have been on the look-out for a new centre-half this summer after seeing a move for Swansea skipper Ashley Williams fall through.

Van Dijk, outstanding in his first season at Parkhead last term following a £2.6million move from Groningen, has been watched by several clubs in the Premier League, although Celtic would need to lower their mooted £10m asking price.