SUNDERLAND’S recruitment of promising young talent looks set to continue with the acquisition of Le Havre left-back Benjamin Mendy, writes CHRIS YOUNG.
The Black Cats have added three hot-shots to their development ranks so far this summer, with the capture of 20-year-old midfielder El-Hadji Ba, along with 19-year-old strikers Duncan Watmore and David Moberg Karlsson.
Mendy, a team-mate of Ba in the French Second Division last season, is expected to take that tally to four after reports last night that Sunderland had agree a fee with Le Havre for the defender.
Le Havre publicly confirmed earlier this week that they were in negotiations with an unnamed Premier League side for Mendy, with Arsenal and Cardiff also linked to the 18-year-old.
But Sunderland appear to have won the race for the signature of the France Under-19 international, who has made 48 appearances for Le Havre since making his first-team debut two years ago.
Sunderland are still likely to sign at least one more experienced left-back this summer though, with no specialists in that position on the club’s books.
Like predecessor Martin O’Neill, Paolo Di Canio has been keen to sign last season’s loan success Danny Rose on a permanent basis, although there is not thought to have been any contact for the Tottenham defender.
Argentine left-back Lucas Orban is also a prime target, although Spanish side Villarreal are keen on the 24-year-old, as the Echo reported earlier this week.
The Black Cats are mindful that they need a new right-back too,
with Phil Bardsley expected to leave Wearside this summer after falling foul of Paolo Di Canio’s disciplinary policy at the end of last season.
Lazio full-back Luis Pedro Cavanda has been linked with a move to Sunderland for several weeks after finding himself out of favour in Italy at the end of last season.
Sunderland are yet to strike an agreement with Lazio for the 22-year-old, according to reports in Italy.
But the Black Cats remain firmly in the running for Cavanda, who is represented by the same agent as new Black Cats signing Modibo Diakite.
Reports in Argentina also linked Sunderland with right-back Gino Peruzzi yesterday, with the 20-year-old mooted to be close to sealing a move to the Premier League.
Peruzzi was a target for Inter Milan - the previous employers of new Sunderland chief scout Valentino Angeloni - during the January transfer window after impressing for Argentine outfit Velez Sarsfield.
But Sunderland are now thought to have jumped to the front of the queue for the Argentina international.
He is one of three Argentines Sunderland are pursuing, with Newell’s Old Boys on-loan Al-Ain winger Nacho Scocco continuing to be linked with a move to Wearside, albeit the 28-year-old favours a move to Italy or Spain.
Uruguay frontman Abel Hernandez, who has impressed in the Confederations Cup, would also require a significant outlay from Sunderland.
But Napoli are now reported to be leading the chase for the Palermo forward.