Sunderland are edging closer to signing Bayern Munich defender Jan Kirchhoff after he jetted into the North East for a medical.
It comes as officials at the German giants confirmed earlier today that Kirchhoff hadn't joined the rest of the squad at their mid-season training camp in Doha and was available for transfer.
Kirchhoff then boarded a plane for the North East and has this afternoon arrived in the region ahead of his medical with the Sunderland backroom staff.
The fee is believed to be around £750,000 for the defender who is out of contract in the summer.
His signing is expected to be completed in the next 24-hours but he is unlikely to be involved in the FA Cup third round clash with Arsenal at the Emirates.
Earlier this week, reports in Germany indicated that Kirchhoff had already agreed an 18-month deal at Sunderland after just a solitary appearance for the Bundesliga outfit this season.
Sunderland have been in talks for several weeks over the central defender, and he is understood to be one of the three faces that the club have been targeting, along with Lorient’s Lamine Kone.
Clearly Sunderland have made progress on the deal but it is understood that he has not yet put pen to paper on a contract with the Black Cats.
However, Bayern are happy to let the 25-year-old leave, with his contract expiring in the summer and Sunderland ready to pay out a modest fee around the £750,000 mark.
Kirchhoff - who spent last season on loan at Schalke - has had his injury problems, but he would reinforce Allardyce’s options in central defence, with Younes Kaboul sidelined for another six weeks.
A statement on the Bayern Munich website, referring to the trip to Qatar, said: "Not here is Jan Kirchhoff, who is with his advisors in negotiations on a possible change."
Meanwhile, respected German newspaper Bild reported: "At the airport Jan Kirchhoff and the other Bayern stars were still close together. But then parted ways. While the team flew a training camp in Doha, Kirchhoff jetted for medical check-up for the AFC Sunderland to England."
Sam Allardyce had said this morning that he was expecting a transfer breakthrough in the next week to 10 days but the developments with Kirchhoff's proposed transfer mean Sunderland could have a new centre back in time for the weekend.