Birmingham’s Larsson top of Sunderland’s Bosman list

Sunderland target Sebastian Larsson (right) battles for the against Newcastle this season.
Sunderland target Sebastian Larsson (right) battles for the against Newcastle this season.
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SEB Larsson is one of three Bosman signings that Sunderland have set their sights on bringing in over the next few weeks.

The Birmingham City midfielder and set-piece specialist is out of contract this summer and the Black Cats will lead the chase for his services once his contract officially expires at the end of June.

Although the Swede has been coy about his future since January and diplomatic about whether or not he will extend his stay with the Blues, the fact is he is set to quit St Andrews whether they stay up or not.

The 25-year-old originally signed by Bruce for Birmingham, fancies a change of club and a vastly improved contract – his stock in the game having risen considerably since he first moved to City from Arsenal in 2007.

Sunderland hope to bring in not only Larsson but also one more Bosman from domestic football and another free transfer from the continent.

Should he get the players he wants, Sunderland will already have addressed some of the problems caused by the serious depletion of his squad either by long-term injuries or players returning to their parent clubs after loan spells.

Then the club will look at fresh loan deals before considering who might actually be bought in permanently this summer and at what cost.

Bruce said: “There’s three Bosmans I’m looking at currently - though I’m not prepared to say just yet who they are.

“Clubs get a list of Bosmans before the end of the season and we’ve taken a long hard look at it.

“There’s three on the list that I’m keen on, players I’ve known about for some time and I’ve sat down with the chairman Niall Quinn to talk it through.

“I’ll leave it in his hands to progress things once their contracts expire and we’ll take it from there.

“We’ve got to find value for money in the transfer market this summer and there are a few quality signings you can get, either on a Bosman or on a loan, if you can just source the right player.”

Veteran frontmen Ruud van Nistlerooy and Miroslav Klose are not among the out-of-contract players Bruce is considering while Bolton’s Johan Elmander and Cardiff’s Jay Bothroyd, both available on free transfers, are not thought to be included in the trio either.

Quinn and Bruce had long discussions about the Bosman list this week and with those players set to become available next month, it will be the Black Cats’ first priority to see whether progress can be made with those signings.

For the moment though, Bruce does not know his transfer budget for the close season.

“It’s too soon to say right now,” he told the Echo. “At this stage of the season everything’s still up in the air.

“As a club we want to do our business as early as possible in the close season and Bosmans are an example of that. But there’s also value in waiting to see what unfolds in the window because there’s always players who become available that even take managers by surprise.

“It’s simpler now in the sense that you know the limits of your squad size.

“If you can get a quality Bosman or two in then your squad starts to take a bit more shape and you can start planning the other areas of the squad you want to strengthen.”