SUNDERLAND are edging closer to the signing of exciting Argentinian attacker Ignacio Scocco.
The Black Cats have held their nerve in their long-term pursuit of the the 28-year-old, who is ready to leave Brazilian side Internacional barely six months after turning down Sao Paolo to join them.
But that patience looks set to pay off, with the arrival of the versatile frontman expected at the Stadium of Light this week.
There have been strong rumours that Cardiff City were ready to match the Black Cats’ bid to sign a player capable of playing on either wing, as an attacking midfielder or as a striker.
But Cardiff’s interest has never fully materialised and if the Welsh club did make an inquiry, it does not appear to have been strongly followed up despite claims from South America.
Scocco’s father, Hector, suggested Cardiff might have joined Sunderland in the bidding for a player Gus Poyet has long admired.
Hector Snr also revealed in a radio interview: “It’s not that Scocco doesn’t like Brazilian football, his problem is that he didn’t have motivation to keep playing for Internacional, nothing else.
“The problem is with Internacional, not with the Brazilian clubs.”
But Sunderland are now in clear pole position to sign the player, although, as in any deal, particularly the complicated South American ones, there is still scope for the move breaking down.
Sunderland have no intention of counting their chickens before they hatch and head coach Gus Poyet has refused to be drawn publicly on Scocco over the last few days.
But behind the scenes, Sunderland are more confident now than they have been previously that the free-scoring frontman could be on his way to the Stadium of Light to massively improve their attacking options.
The 5ft 8in Scocco potentially offers the complete package, combining shooting accuracy with good technical skills and has scored goals wherever he has played, although it would remain to be seen how quickly he would adjust to the demands of the Premier League.
If he does join, he would certainly excite Sunderland fans. He would also be the fourth signing made by Gus Poyet in the January transfer window – joining fellow Argentinians Oscar Ustari and Santiago Vergini, and on-loan Fiorentina defender Marcos Alonso.
Sunderland remain in the chase, meanwhile, for Brighton defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt and Valencia playmaker Ever Banega, another Argentinian.