SUNDERLAND have been warned they will have to stump up more than £6m to sign Ignacio Scocco, with Internacional officials ruling out any prospect of a loan deal for the Argentinian striker.
Black Cats boss Gustavo Poyet has identified Scocco as his preferred attacking reinforcement during this month’s transfer window, and there have been a number of discussions between Sunderland’s backroom team and their counterparts at Internacional.
Poyet had initially been hoping to complete a loan deal, with a view to a permanent signing at the end of the season, but Internacional director of football Roberto Melo has ruled out a short-term switch.
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With Argentinian sides River Plate and Newell’s Old Boys also hoping to engineer a loan deal, Scocco will only be moving this month if it is on a permanent basis.
“There are many clubs interested in Scocco and there are several offers,” said Melo. “But we want a permanent move – we are not interested in loan offers.”
Scocco joined Internacional from UAE side Al Ain for around £5m last summer, having spent the previous season on loan at Newell’s Old Boys.
Six months down the line, and while Internacional are willing to move him on once again, they are determined to make a profit on their investment, meaning Sunderland will have to pay close to £6m to secure the 28-year-old’s services.
Scocco has previously played in Europe with AEK Athens, scoring 26 goals in 88 appearances for the Greek side, and is understood to be keen to ply his trade in the Premier League.
There are expected to be further offers to remain in Argentina this month, but the forward’s father, Hector, claims his son is enthused by the prospect of joining Sunderland.
“The most likely is that (Scocco) joins Sunderland,” he said. “River and Newell’s asked for him, but Internacional’s demands are too high and they don’t want to loan him out.
“That’s understandable as they want to recoup the investment they made, and no club in Argentina can afford what they want. But Poyet told him (Scocco) what he wants, and that he is very interested that Scocco goes (to Sunderland).”
If Scocco moves to Wearside before the end of the transfer window, he will almost certainly join his compatriot, Santiago Vergini, who is close to completing a move from Estudiantes.
Although the financial technicalities of his move are still to be agreed, with Estudiantes officials understood to have briefly shifted the goalposts of a previous agreement, the defender is due to travel to the North-East within the next 24 hours to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms.
Poyet is also pursuing a move for goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, as well as monitoring Liam Bridcutt’s position at Brighton after the midfielder submitted a formal transfer request at the end of last week.
This week is the first for more than a month in which Sunderland have not had a midweek fixture, and after a run of six games in 17 days, Poyet is pleased to have the opportunity to spend some quality time on the training ground.
The Black Cats have lost just one of their last nine matches in all competitions, but while the hectic schedule has not unduly inconvenienced them, Poyet insists it has been far from ideal.
“I don’t want it this way,” said the Sunderland boss. “It has been a good period for us, but I would like it to stop.
“It was a moment that was incredible. You practically don’t train. If you really want to coach, and tell players to do things, you have to train. For us, it’s been play, play, play, recover, play, recover, play.
“We haven’t been training. You can give the players mental information, but you are not training them and improving things.
“For the coach, it is difficult. For the players, it is okay because they always want to play rather than train. But for the coaches, it’s tough. You cannot really train and allow the players to grow and develop.”