STEVE Bruce believes Sunderland have captured the best three Bosmans on the market in Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Keiren Westwood.
Sunderland kept tabs on the trio throughout last season, knowing that they were all likely to leave their respective clubs for nothing at the end of the campaign.
Deals for Larsson and Westwood were struck almost as soon as Sunderland were allowed to talk to them last month, while Vaughan became the club’s ninth buy of the summer yesterday after the Black Cats fended off late interest from Bolton.
Bruce insists the trio represent great value for money in a transfer window where Sunderland have been busier than any other Premier League club.
The Black Cats boss told the Echo: “Before the season ended, we were doing our homework on Larsson, Vaughan (both pictured right) and Westwood.
“For me, they were the three best Bosmans out there.
“I didn’t think I’d have this many new signings this early in the window.
“But I’m very pleased with what we’ve done so far because the squad looks far healthier than it did a few months ago.
“My job is to keep us improving and, looking at what we’ve got and I’m very excited with it.”
Despite nine new signings, Bruce revealed he is still looking at more potential fresh faces.
Sunderland maintain their long-standing interest in Charles N’Zogbia, although the Wigan winger has priced himself out of a move to Wearside with his wage demands and is very much on Aston Villa’s radar if Stewart Downing leaves Villa Park for Liverpool.
The Reds are also believed to be interested if they fail to land Downing.
The Black Cats also still have a “take it or leave it” offer on the table for Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson, although the Republic of Ireland international is another whose wage expectations are likely to scupper a transfer.
Bruce insists Sunderland needed to be major players in the market after the departures of loanees Sulley Muntari, John Mensah, Danny Welbeck and Nedum Onuoha, the out-of-contract Bolo Zenden and new Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.
“I don’t think we’re quite finished yet (with signings),” he added.
“I think what a lot of people outside of Sunderland don’t realise is we had four or five players on loan.
“Apart from Ahmed (Elmohamady), they all went back and then we lost Bolo Zenden and Jordan.
“But the spotlight is on us because no one has been as active as us. We needed to do that, though.
“We knew we had a busy summer ahead, but I have to say I’m delighted with what we’ve brought in.
“We’ve brought in a bit of youth and a bit of experience at the back, which I’m sure will stand us in good stead.
“We’ve been able to attract two people from Manchester United (Wes Brown and John O’Shea) who have played 850 games between them.
“They were there for 10 or 11 years, which is fantastic for us. It just shows the development of the club that we’re able to bring them here.”