SUNDERLAND will learn within the next 48 hours if Fabio Borini will be returning to the Stadium of Light after further discussions with the Liverpool forward.
The Black Cats returned from a ten-day pre-season trip to Portugal last night and expect to know if the £14m deal, which has been on the table for weeks, will go-ahead very soon.
Borini has been recovering from a shoulder injury picked up on a pre-season tour of the United States with Liverpool and did not want to rush in to a permanent switch to the Stadium of Light.
He was understood to have told people close to him initially that he would prefer to play in the Champions League next season, believing he could fight for his first team shirt at Anfield.
But Sunderland’s interest has never gone away and they are the only club to have matched Liverpool’s valuation. A second season-long loan, after the success of the first last season, has also been mooted as a possibility, although the Merseyside club would prefer to sell. Poyet admitted Sunderland will have some good news on the transfer front to report before this Thursday’s friendly with Real Betis at Bishop Auckland. He was in no mood to discuss names at such an important stage, however.
When asked if Borini was one of the players that could be arriving, he said: “We’ll know in two or three days.”
The former Roma, Swansea and Chelsea man is just one of a number of transfer targets in Sunderland’s sights. Poyet wanted four players in by this Wednesday and he is confident that significant progress has been made.
Poyet, speaking on his last night in Portugal before flying back to the North-East with the squad, said: “There are plenty of things going on and I’m looking forward to things happening in the next few days, so it’s all positive. I think we have a great chance (of signing players), a great chance. People are going to be surprised, which is great. It’s all positive.”
The Sunderland boss was in high spirits after Saturday’s goalless draw with Vitoria, an indication that he is happy with the state of play on the transfer front after a frustrating few months.
The £1.5m arrival of Patrick van Aanholt from Chelsea recently is the only Sunderland purchase since the end of last season, although they have recruited free agents Billy Jones, Costel Pantilimon and Jordi Gomez.
There have been moves for players such as Cristian Rodriguez, Santiago Vergini, Marcos Alonso, among others, but nothing has been smooth to conclude. Alternatives have had to be considered, but Sunderland should have added to their list of summer recruits by the middle of the week.
Palermo’s Uruguay striker Abel Hernandez has also been offered to the Wearside outfit, but there is also interest in the powerful front-man from Southampton.
An area of the squad that Poyet does not need to strengthen is the goalkeeper position, following Pantilmon’s arrival from Manchester City.
The Romanian started his second consecutive game in Portugal on Saturday because of an illness to Vito Mannone.
The latter was expected to face Vitoria but will now start this Thursday’s friendly with Real Betis – provided he recovers from illness in time.
The Italian had the misfortune of having to stay at the team hotel on Saturday because of the bug, which meant he could not feature in the final friendly in the Algarve.
Pantilimon hopes to stay between the posts for the opening Premier League game of the season on August 16 at West Brom. Poyet will look to give Mannone an outing at Heritage Park against Spanish side Betis.
“It was a stomach issue that kept Vito out,” said Poyet. “It’s nothing serious. He had to be completely apart from the group on Saturday and when we travel on Sunday to make sure we don’t get any virus passing through the squad.
“I hope he is OK soon because he would have played on Saturday. He will play on Thursday if he’s ok. We decided with Andy Beasley that each goalkeeper would play one each in Portugal. We picked Costel on Wednesday and Vito for Saturday and in the end Costel played the two games. He knows how important he is for us, nothing more.”
Sunderland’s Under-21s, meanwhile, won 3-1 at Gateshead on Saturday. Seb Larsson, back home early from Portugal because his wife was due to give birth, Danny Graham and Mikael Mandron were on the scoresheet.