Sunderland battling Juventus, Everton and Celtic for Italy international

Diego De Girolamo.
Diego De Girolamo.
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SUNDERLAND are continuing to pursue teenage forward Diego De Girolamo, despite Juventus making an offer for the Italy Under-20 international.

In-demand De Girolamo will leave Sheffield United when his contract expires at Bramall Lane this summer, albeit the Blades will be owed compensation for the 19-year-old due to his age.

The Echo understands Sunderland have watched De Girolamo – currently on loan at League Two strugglers York City – around half-a-dozen times, with a view to adding the frontman to the Black Cats Under-21 squad next season.

And Sunderland’s interest has not waned, despite Italian giants Juventus – plus an unnamed Spanish club – putting contract offers on the table after the Serie A champions have scouted him throughout the national team age groups from Under-18 level.

It is not thought that Sunderland have yet reached the stage of entering into talks with Sheffield United over a compensation package for De Girolamo.

But Sunderland scouts were present at York’s stalemate against Exeter a fortnight ago, while they are again expected to watch him when the Minstermen face relegation rivals Carlisle in a huge clash this weekend.

Sunderland scouts were present at York’s stalemate against Exeter a fortnight ago while they are again expected to watch him when the Minstermen face Carlisle this weekend

De Girolamo, himself, is understood to be keen on a switch to the Stadium of Light and is looking for a move to the Premier League after growing up in Derbyshire, despite his Italian descent.

Everton and Celtic have also watched De Girolamo in action this season, but Sunderland have been the keenest domestic suitors.

After just 19 senior appearances, De Girolamo would be signed for the Sunderland development squad, rather than for first-team contention.

However, that route has seen Duncan Watmore make big strides since being signed from non-league Altrincham in the summer of 2013, with the club continuing to look for promising youngsters down the football pyramid.

There is no prospect of De Girolamo remaining at Sheffield United after boss Nigel Clough confirmed last month: “His time here will come to an end when his contract ends.

“He’s rejected his contract offer and the chance to stay here.

“We felt we had offered him a good deal but I think he feels he will get better opportunities elsewhere.”