Sunderland are tracking Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton, but a January move looks a long-shot for the Israeli international.
Highly-rated Bitton penned a new five-year contract with the Scottish Premiership champions at the start of the month, but that has not stopped a number of Premier League clubs sending scouting missions north of the border.
Sunderland are the latest top-flight outfit to be casting their gaze over Bitton after watching him in action on several occasions in recent weeks.
But it would be something of a shock for the 24-year-old to arrive at the Stadium of Light in the upcoming transfer window.
The Echo understands that Bitton’s camp is yet to receive any contact over a potential move to Wearside.
And more crucially, Celtic are thought to be looking for a fee around the £10million mark – as they banked from the sale of centre-half Virgil van Dijk to Southampton in the summer, who Sunderland had previously been following closely.
However, Sunderland’s scouting trips are another sign of the club casting their net for potential new recruits who can help the survival bid in the New Year.
The Echo revealed last week how Olympiakos’s French left-back, Arthur Masuaku, was on Sunderland’s radar after the Black Cats watched him in the Champions League clash against Dynamo Zagreb.
Olympiakos have set a lofty asking price around the £7m mark for Masuaku, yet Sunderland are thought to be keen on the 22-year-old.
Meanwhile, Leeds United remain hopeful of finally completing the loan signing of Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt.
Leeds have spent more than a fortnight attempting to rubber-stamp a two-month loan for Bridcutt, who is largely surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light having failed to make a first-team appearance all season.
Bridcutt is understood to favour a move to Elland Road, despite interest from Leeds’ Championship peers Reading and Cardiff.
However, Leeds must complete a deal before the emergency loan window shuts on Wednesday, November 25.
Leeds boss Steve Evans said: “I’m still hopeful of getting a couple of deals done.”