SUNDERLAND are hopeful of wrapping up a deal for Kader Mangane after the Senegalese defender arrived in the North East for talks.
The Black Cats have moved a step closer to sealing their second arrival of the January transfer window after the centre-half completed his trip from the Middle East yesterday.
Martin O’Neill was cautious over Mangane’s impending arrival after Saturday’s 3-0 win over West Ham, but the 29-year-old is expected to agree personal terms over a loan switch until the end of the season from Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal, with a view to a permanent move in the summer.
O’Neill said: “I’m not so sure that anything has been absolutely settled, but if it is, it would be a loan until the end of the season.
“We’re hoping that something might materialise, but there’s a distance to go yet.”
Providing Sunderland can secure Mangane’s signature, O’Neill would have addressed his two priorities of a new centre-back and central midfielder, with less than half of the transfer window gone.
O’Neill is still keen to add Swansea striker Danny Graham to his ranks – the ex-Middlesbrough man restricted to a late outing from the bench at the weekend despite four goals in his previous four games – but that move depends on the Welsh side landing ex-Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones from Stoke.
The Wearsiders have also been linked with a £3.5million move for French international Moussa Sissoko, with the midfielder’s contract at Toulouse expiring at the end of the season.
But a delegation from Newcastle are known to have held talks with Sissoko last week and the link with Sunderland may simply be a ploy to hasten the Magpies’ hand.
There was also speculation again yesterday that QPR are interested in Black Cats defender Titus Bramble after the basement boys have struck out in their attempts to land West Brom’s Jonas Olsson.
QPR’s interest in Bramble is genuine and he is unlikely to remain at the Stadium of Light after his contract expires at the end of the season.
But until the signing of Mangane, Bramble is one of just three fit centre-halves available to O’Neill and it would be a shock if he was allowed to depart at this stage.