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Di Canio in hunt for creative midfielder
PAOLO DI CANIO will prioritise the purchase of a creative midfielder above the acquisition of a new left-back in the remainder of the transfer window.
And having spelled out his determination to hold on to Stephane Sessegnon in the face of mounting interest from the Middle East, the Sunderland boss has warned he will need two top-class attacking acquisitions if the Benin international is allowed to depart.
Director of football, Roberto de Fanti, has been chasing a new left-back all summer, and talks are due to take place with Juventus over a possible season-long loan for Paolo de Ceglie.
However, having watched his side struggle to break down Fulham in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light, Di Canio admits an attacking midfielder is a more pressing priority ahead of the transfer deadline on September 2.
“There was a revolution and we have spent already – although much less than in the past – so we have to be sensible,”
said the Black Cats boss, after Pajtim Kasami’s second-half header condemned his side to an opening- day defeat at the Stadium of Light.
“At this moment, if we can only bring in one player without selling Sessegnon, it would absolutely be a central midfield player. If we can bring two, it would be a central midfield player and a winger.
“If we can bring three, it would be a central midfielder, a winger and a left-back. This is the reality. We have to be honest.
“I can’t criticise my club at all because they have already spent money, but obviously if they can make more sacrifices, it would be better. It would be better for the club, not only for Paolo Di Canio, because we are going to get better results and finish better in the league and be more comfortable. If we can’t bring any more players, we are going to stay up anyway. “We are going to improve individually and work 24 hours a day to make sure we win. But if we can bring in one or two more players, it will be better. Otherwise, no problem, we will keep going and working hard.”
Much could depend on what happens with Sessegnon, with Qatari side El Jaish understood to have outlined their desire to sign the 29- year-old.
Sessegnon was hardly in the game on Saturday, but Di Canio is adamant that he does not want to lose a player who scored seven Premier League goals last season.
However, it is surely instructive that the Sunderland boss also felt the need to spell out what the ramifications would be if Sessegnon was to leave Wearside this month.
“I have to be clear – I don’t want to sell Sessegnon,” he said. “We have to speak privately with the board, but I don’t want to sell Sessegnon.
“If someone wants to sell Sessegnon, they will have to think that they will have to bring in a top central midfield player and a top striker. Not just someone for cover, or some kid who is still learning the game.
Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini and Fulham’s Sasha Riether tussle for the ball
“For me, Sessegnon is not for sale. But if someone wants to sell him, they will have to bring me a striker with quality, that I like, and also a midfield player, not for cover. Someone with good quality, experience and physical presence, otherwise Sessegnon is not for sale and one more central midfield player has to come in anyway.”
Di Canio is also determined to hold on to Ji Dong-won, despite the striker spurning a golden opportunity to equalise in the dying seconds of Saturday’s game.
Having spent the whole of last season on loan at German side Augsburg, it was widely assumed that Ji, who only has one more year of his current contract to run, would be leaving on a permanent basis this summer.
However, Sunderland have rejected an offer from Borussia Dortmund for the 22-year-old, and Di Canio will be happy to see him remain at the Stadium of Light.
“I wanted to keep him,” he said. “We had a chance to sell him and he only has one more year left on his contract. But I want to keep him because he is a good footballer.
“He had a problem in the last friendly game in Italy, but he trained with the team in the last few days. It will take another week or ten days to see him in top form, but he is a very good player.
“Especially when we counter-attack, he can score very good goals. If we want to stay up much more comfortably than we did last year, and do well in the cups, we need to have options in our front line.
“Otherwise we will struggle like we did last year when, at the end of the season, we didn’t really have any options.
We have probably lost some money, but we will have the services of a very good, talented player. I like him.”
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