SUNDERLAND are busy lining up potential new signings for next season, on the assumption that the club will stay in the Premier League.
Paolo Di Canio revealed in the Echo last week that he has not given transfers a second thought as he continues his over-riding mission to save Sunderland’s Premier League skin.
But while that may well be true, it has not stopped the wheels being put into motion behind the scenes.
“I haven’t thought about transfers yet – absolutely nothing,” Di Canio revealed.
“Everything can change at the moment, you can feel safe and then – boom – you can be hit like a hammer.
“So we have to make sure that we are safe first – I can’t think about transfers until then.”
Nevertheless, although Di Canio might not want to think about future rebuilding while he is pre-occupied with the club’s survival mission, that hasn’t stopped targets quietly being identified and examined and the groundwork prepared for potential moves.
Last week, Sunderland confirmed that chief scout Pop Robson, along with several of his support network, would be leaving as a complete overhaul of the scouting side of the club was ramped up.
But that does not mean the Wearsiders’ recruitment plans have been put on hold for the moment – far from it.
New hands are now on the tiller and they come into the club with ideas of which players could significantly improve Sunderland with several names have already on the list and only awaiting confirmation of Sunderland’s Premier League status being retained before they are acted upon.
Much has been made of potential new director of football, Fifa-registered agent Roberto di Fanti, being unveiled as the man who will work with Di Canio to get the best transfer targets for Sunderland and get the best value for money for them.
But, regardless of what role he might take up, the Echo understands it will not be chief scout, with a successor to Robson already identified and ready to come to the club.
Sunderland have been linked since Di Canio’s arrival with Lazio defender Modibo Diakite – though the player’s agent has confirmed there has been no official approach to date – and centre-half Valentin Roberge, who plays for Portuguese side Maritimo.
Both are out of contract in the summer, and would welcome a move to England.
But these are likely to be the first shots fired in what will be a long close season where speculation can be expected to be rife on who Sunderland might or might not sign.
One thing is for certain though – that when Di Canio does turn to the transfer market, and he is expected to have the final say on signings, much of the spadework will already have been done for him and he will have a detailed list to look at.