SUNDERLAND are still open to signing Fabio Borini, even if the Black Cats seal a loan move for Inter Milan’s Ricky Alvarez.
But there is an acceptance at the Stadium of Light that there is now only a remote chance of the summer’s main target Borini returning to the club from Liverpool.
Sunderland are keeping all of their options open heading into the final three days of the transfer window, with head coach Gus Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton looking at various targets to strengthen the squad before Monday’s 11pm deadline.
The Black Cats are attempting to seal a season-long loan for Inter forward Alvarez, although as the Echo reported yesterday, the deal is not as close to being concluded as has been mooted in Italy.
But the capture of Argentine international Alvarez will not necessarily spell the end of their pursuit of Borini.
Poyet remains hopeful that Sunderland can land the Italian on a second season-long loan, although unless Borini agrees to return in the next 24 hours, the deal is unlikely to happen.
Sunderland are also eager to strengthen their options in the centre of defence.
The Black Cats are one of several clubs, including Arsenal, who have been tracking Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk, although the SPL champions insist there have been no formal bids for the Dutchman.
Sunderland have also been strongly linked with a loan move for Atletico Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld and he is thought to be a player who does interest Poyet.
But Poyet is being cautious over who Sunderland recruit at centre-half.
The Sunderland boss realises he cannot promise any new defensive arrival an immediate chance to play first-team football.
John O’Shea and Wes Brown have been the foundations of Sunderland’s defence under Poyet and while the Uruguayan has half an eye on a centre-half for the long-term, any new arrival faces a challenge to instantly displace one of the ex-Manchester United pair.
However, Poyet was coy on the transfer speculation at his press conference yesterday after refusing to be drawn on any names.
“There’s been too many names and too many things said in the press,” he said.
“I already read we’d signed a player (Alvarez) that I didn’t know we’d signed him.
“When you talk about individuals, somebody else gets involved.
“I don’t want to lose anymore targets, so I prefer not to talk about names.
“That’s the way it works. You do all your work, get in contact with the club and the player, search if it’s the right mentality and then their name gets in the press.
“Another club gets involved, offers them more money and then at the end, they don’t end up coming.”
Poyet admitted though that it is imperative Sunderland add to their options before the deadline.
“We are there, working hard every day,” he added.
“In the last week or 10 days, we were very close to a few things which for a few reasons didn’t happen.
“It’s not good enough if we don’t (make any further additions).
“We are a small squad and we need those players.
“It’s about having the right squad to go from here to January. That’s the key.”
Meanwhile, ex-Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou - the subject of an enquiry from Sunderland last week - is on the verge of joining Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin from Lille.