Sunderland’s status as a Premier League club owes much to Sam Allardyce’s January transfer dealings on the Continent.
And the Black Cats boss is again targeting France for his summer recruitment plans, with Sunderland among a number of teams weighing up a move for Lyon winger Rachid Ghezzal.
The 24-year-old French-born Algerian wideman only has a year remaining on his contract at the French giants with his future very much in doubt.
Several Premier League teams - plus sides in Spain - are monitoring his contract situation with Allardyce and Sunderland well-placed to swoop thanks to strong links in France.
An attacking midfielder/winger is high on the summer wish-list with Sunderland also tracking Swansea City’s Andre Ayew.
Ghezzal, who scored eight goals in 36 games last term, comes highly-regarded and would be a far cheaper option than Swansea’s 12-goal top scorer.
Sunderland signed Lamine Kone for £5million from Lorient in January, with Wahbi Khazri heading to Wearside for £9million from Bordeaux and both played a key role in survival.
The club’s scouting system has been busy in recent weeks, with Allardyce and his coaching staff continuing to look at transfer targets even when their top flight status was under threat.
Sunderland continue to monitor Lorient right-back Lamine Gassama, who rejected the club’s advances in the January window but is out-of-contract this summer.
Also out of contract is Bordeaux midfielder Clement Chantome, who was watched again by scouts earlier this month.
With Premier League status finally assured for a 10th-straight season thanks to the win over Everton, Allardyce began transfer talks with owner Ellis Short last week.
But the club faces stiff competition to land the signature of Ghezzal, with Liverpool, Stoke City, Arsenal, West Ham United and North East neighbours Middlesbrough all tracking him.
Sources in France say Ghezzal - who has won four caps for Algeria - is looking for a new challenge and his wages wouldn’t be a problem, with the winger one of the lowest paid members of the Lyon squad.
Allardyce is keen to have the core of his squad in place ahead of pre-season training on July 1.
But prices are set to rocket this summer with the new television deal coming into affect for Premier League clubs for the 2016-17 campaign, resulting in selling clubs hiking up prices.
Ghezzal’s contract runs out in the summer of 2017, which would mean Lyon would struggle to command big bucks for the winger though, who provided eight assists last season.
Allardyce is wary of rising prices generally.
“That will be the hard part; spending the money as wisely as we possibly can,” he told the Echo earlier this month.
“Even though there’s more money coming for everybody, it will only inflate the prices during the early part of the summer.”