SUNDERLAND will turn their attentions to Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma after missing out on Ashley Williams.
The Black Cats had a £4m bid turned down for the Swansea City captain last month with head coach Gus Poyet keen to add at least one centre-back to his squad.
The Wearsiders continued negotiations with the Swans, but the 29-year-old committed his future to the Swans by signing a new four-year contract on Friday.
While Poyet signed free agents Billy Jones, Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon, the Uruguayan has been frustrated in his search for other reinforcements.
Defence is one area Poyet is keen to strengthen in particular and there is still a chance Santiago Vergini and Marcos Alonso could return, having spent time on loan at the club last season.
Having allowed Carlos Cuellar to leave at the end of his contract and questions marks over the futures of Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite, the head coach is in the market for a central defender to push Wes Brown and John O’Shea for a place in his starting line-up.
And having missed out on Williams, it is understood the Black Cats will press forward in their attempts to sign Zouma on a season-long loan deal.
Chelsea paid £12m for the £19-year-old in January, but he was immediately loaned back to former club St Etienne.
With John Terry and Gary Cahill Jose Mourinho’s first choice centre-back pair, the Blues will allow Zouma to leave on loan again.
Sunderland hope sporting director Lee Congerton’s links to Stamford Bridge can help strike a deal.
Meanwhile, Poyet has revealed Steven Fletcher will start pre-season fully fit after returning from holiday a week earlier than the rest of the squad.
Fletcher missed the final three months of last season with an ankle injury, but the striker has worked on his fitness over the summer in order to be ready for the new campaign.
“Fletch came back a week early to make sure he started running with no reactions. I saw him and everything looks fine,” Poyet revealed.
“He's excited. People don't know sometimes that the players are like any of us. When you like so much to play football you're excited about the chance to go back.”
Meanwhile, Ignacio Scocco could be heading back to former club Newell’s Old Boys. Scocco started his career at Newell’s and vice president Jorge Ricobelli has confirmed that the club would like the striker to return.