Once again, Sunderland find themselves deep in relegation trouble ahead of the festive period.
And with games against Manchester City and Liverpool to come plus a ‘six-pointer’ against Aston Villa, this will be a pivotal period in the club’s season.
We take a look at who Sunderland ARE targeting and the chances of bringing them to the Stadium of Light
Five points adrift of safety, Sam Allardyce is desperate for his Black Cats side to hang on to the coat tails of Swansea City, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth long enough for recruitments to arrive.
A new centre-back and centre-forward top the wanted list. We take a look at who Sunderland ARE targeting and the chances of bringing them to the Stadium of Light:
Sunderland are battling with Norwich City on more than one front this season, with the Canaries also chasing French striker Haller.
The 21-year-old goal machine, currently banging them in for Dutch side Utrecht, has been scouted by a Sunderland delegation.
Standing at 6ft 2in, Haller has an impressive pedigree, netting 14 goals in just 18 games.
The chances are that Utrecht will look to cash in on their biggest asset. And manager Wilco van Schaik fears he won’t be able to stop the sensational young striker from moving to a bigger club.
He said: “We have him under contract for another three years, but anyone can see that he is doing brilliantly.”
Sunderland are one of a dozen Premier League sides keeping tabs on centre-half Lamine Kone.
No deal has yet been agreed with French side Lorient, but Allardyce is keeping a close eye on the situation.
Allardyce said recently: “There’s no offers or conversations with Lorient at this moment of time.”
Expect interest to ramp up in the coming weeks.
The Ivory Coast international’s agent, Mark McCay, has admitted that the 26-year-old is attracting interest from the Premier League.
There is fierce competition to sign the defender and picking up at least one win over the festive period is going to be key for Sunderland to maintain their stance as being among the favourites to sign him.
North East rivals Sunderland and Newcastle have been credited with an interest in Matip.
But Steve McClaren looks unlikely to be adding the Schalke defender to his ranks in January, with sources saying Newcastle are not interested in Matip currently.
That leaves Sunderland in a strong position and Matip fits the bill for Allardyce’s transfer wish list.
Matip is approaching the final six months of his contract at Schalke and would fit with Sunderland’s search for cost-effective recruits in the New Year.
Sunderland have watched the 24-year-old Cameroon international, who has made more than 200 career appearances, on several occasions.
Collins has been linked with a move to Sunderland ever since his former boss Allardyce was named as manager.
The 32-year-old Welshman, out of contract in the summer, is an experienced defender who would no doubt improve Sunderland’s backline.
Hopes were high a deal could be struck, until West Ham’s injury crisis took hold.
Collins had started just seven games but has been involved in the last two – helping keep a clean sheet in both – reducing the chances of him leaving in January.
Sunderland could still negotiate a cut-price fee for Collins, who looks unlikely to sign a new deal in the summer.
Collins loves nothing better than a physical challenge.
At West Ham, only Winston Reid (7.3) averages more clearances per game than Collins (6.1), while the two defenders each average a team-high 1.3 blocks for every 90 minutes they play.
The Hoffenheim forward is a wanted man, with several Premier League sides keen to add him to their side.
Sunderland are among them and scouts watched Volland in action recently.
The impressive 23-year-old has hit 33 goals in 122 games for Hoffenheim, becoming one of the most dangerous forwards in the Bundesliga.
He has also won five caps for the German national team.
Volland, who is also comfortable on the wing, would be a fine addition to the Sunderland squad, but interest from elsewhere makes it unlikely.
The future of the highly-sought after QPR hitman has become something of a soap opera in recent weeks.
Hopes of signing him were raised this week by QPR director of football Les Ferdinand.
He said: “I’m realistic and sometimes that gets people upset, but there are teams in the top six of the Premier League that are struggling.
“If one of those teams come in and bid for Charlie, he will want to go because that’s where he sees himself.”
Sunderland have scouted Austin and his prolific form in front of goal is just what the goal-shy Black Cats need.
Out of contract in the summer, will he move on the cheap – compared to the £15million summer price tag? Or leave London on a Bosman in the summer.
Sadly, Sunderland are likely to be near the bottom of the queue.