A ‘number 10’ attacking midfielder is among a trio of positions that Sam Allardyce has prioritised, IF he remains as Sunderland manager.
Sunderland’s transfer business is understood to be stalling as a result of the uncertainty over Allardyce’s future, with the FA continuing to give no indication of when they will appoint a successor to Roy Hodgson as England boss.
PSG right-back Youssouf Sabaly is among those that Sunderland have held talks over, yet the proposed season-long loan – with a view to a permanent switch – for the 23-year-old is on ice while the Black Cats are in limbo over Allardyce.
But even if Allardyce remains at the Stadium of Light, he is understood to be operating with a limited transfer budget by Premier League standards, despite the £30million extra revenue stemming from the new television deal.
That was what led Allardyce to confirm in a club website interview earlier this month that he was focusing on the “top players” who were capable of going straight into the starting XI and improving it.
It has been well-documented that a new striker and right-back have been at the top of Allardyce’s list, with only one available option currently on the books in each position.
But Allardyce also wants a player capable of operating in the hole behind the striker, with those three positions forming the basis of Sunderland’s main transfer hunt.
Ideally, Allardyce would like to add another centre-half, central midfielder, plus re-sign last season’s loanee Yann M’Vila to his squad too.
However, those are likely to be possibilities for loan moves later in the window, as is M’Vila, with the trail going quiet on the Frenchman, who has a big asking price on his head, despite only six months remaining on his contract at Rubin Kazan.
Sunderland’s hopes of addressing the striker issue with main target Diafra Sakho could be boosted with West Ham on the verge of landing Argentine hitman Jonathan Calleri from Deportivo Maldonado.
All moves for Sakho – who has reportedly refused to travel to West Ham’s pre-season training camp in Austria – have been on hold until the Hammers have been able to sign a replacement striker.
But even if West Ham do complete the signing of Calleri, there would again be question marks over whether Sunderland would sanction a £15million outlay on a player who might not be to the taste of a new manager.