SUNDERLAND are pressing ahead with a loan move for Inter Milan’s Ricky Alvarez.
Argentina international Alvarez is a genuine possibility to solve the left-sided forward role which Sunderland are looking to address before Monday’s transfer deadline after reports emerged in Italy earlier this week that he was on the Black Cats’ radar.
Sunderland sources insist that while the club is in talks over Alvarez, no deal is imminent, although reports emerged in Italy last night that he was due to fly to England today ahead of a medical over the weekend.
The Black Cats have been considering various contingency options to main target Fabio Borini over recent weeks, with enquiries made for Eduardo Vargas and Salomon Kalou.
But Alvarez is now the primary alternative to Borini, with Sunderland looking to sign him on a season-long loan, with a view to a £10million permanent deal.
Alvarez has blown hot and cold during his three years at Inter after joining the Serie A giants in a £10m move from Velez Sarsfield, but his capture would still be something of a coup for Sunderland, with Monaco and Atletico Madrid both tracking the 26-year-old this summer.
The pursuit of Alvarez is likely to signal the end of Sunderland’s interest in Liverpool forward Borini, who has remained Gus Poyet’s first-choice for that role.
Borini has been kept informed by Poyet throughout Sunderland’s pursuit that the club have been looking at alternatives, while the Black Cats would still have two domestic loans available, even if they did complete a move for Alvarez.
But with Poyet also keen to add another central midfielder and central defender to his ranks, it is likely to be either Borini or an alternative forward who arrives before the end of the window, rather than two frontmen.
Sunderland continue to be linked with a loan move for Belgium international for Toby Alderweireld to solve that defensive spot.
And Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk has also been mooted as a possibility, with reports that the Black Cats had submitted a £6m bid with the SPL champions.
Both Celtic and Sunderland sources insist no formal offer has been made for van Dijk and the Black Cats are unlikely to splash out such a figure before the end of the window, with the club now predominantly concentrating on loan deals.
Van Dijk is a player who Poyet admires after he has watched the Dutchman in action during his stints in charge of both Brighton and Sunderland.
However, Celtic are looking for a fee in excess of £6m for the 23-year-old, with Arsenal also interested in the former FC Groningen man.
And Poyet is understood to be wary of investing such a hefty sum on a player who has shone in the Dutch and Scottish leagues, but is untested in the Premier League.