SUNDERLAND are hoping to push through a deal for former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou this week, but have still not given up hope of re-signing Fabio Borini on loan before the transfer window closes next Monday.
Senior Black Cats officials have opened negotiations with French side Lille over either a permanent or a loan deal for Kalou, and are understood to have received permission to speak to the 29-year-old and his representatives over the weekend.
Two sides from the German Bundesliga, one of which is Wolfsburg, have also lodged offers with Lille, but sources in France claim Kalou would like to return to England, having spent six years playing with Chelsea between 2006-12.
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Gus Poyet refused to confirm his interest in Kalou in the wake of yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United, which saw Jack Rodwell’s close-range header cancel out an earlier strike from Juan Mata.
However, Sunderland’s head coach is expected to hold personal discussions with the Ivory Coast international in the next 24 hours, and there is growing confidence that he can be persuaded to move to the Stadium of Light to bolster the Black Cats’ attacking ranks.
Kalou’s arrival would not necessarily herald the end of Sunderland’s interest in Borini, although there is an acceptance that the Liverpool forward will not be moving permanently despite a £14m fee having been agreed last month.
Borini does not want to commit his long-term future to the Black Cats, but having spent last season on loan on Wearside, there is a chance he could return on another temporary deal.
Sunderland’s offer of another season-long switch will remain on the table until the transfer window closes next Monday night, with Liverpool’s anticipated capture of Mario Balotelli providing another reason for Borini to seriously consider a switch away from Anfield.
Sunderland’s most recent signing was Will Buckley, and the £2.5m capture from Brighton enjoyed a successful first start yesterday afternoon.
Promoted to the starting line-up in place of Adam Johnson, who is suffering from an illness, Buckley caused a succession of problems down the right-hand side, with his pace and persistence earning the corner that led to Rodwell’s equalising goal.
“I am so pleased he had a good first half because now everybody knows why I was so persistent in asking the club for him,” said Poyet. “It took us seven-and-a-half months, but we've got him here and now everybody knows why.
“He's electric, he's direct and he brings a different feeling in the stands. Don't expect it every week, let’s be patient, but he showed why he's here and that makes me very happy.”
Poyet knows all about Buckley, having worked with him at Brighton, and while Sunderland’s head coach did not expect the 24-year-old to progress as quickly as he has, he was never in any doubt that he would be able to handle the step up to Premier League level.
“When I first saw him, I did not instantly think he would be a star, but he was always learning and listening,” he said. “He was very quiet, shy, but when he's on the pitch and he's got a chance to attack, he's a nightmare.
“He is confident in the position he played and he knows what we want from him. He didn't have to make too many decisions, so he was able to do what he does best.”
Poyet was delighted with his players’ efforts against a Manchester United side who continue to struggle under Louis van Gaal, although the Uruguayan admitted Sunderland allowed their standards to slip in the second half.
“I was very pleased with the quality and the way we adapted to the system of Man United in the first half,” he said. “(We were) probably the best team on the pitch.
“Then we suffered and defended and got a point. We dropped a little bit physically and Man United were stronger than us. It's two parts.
“We were working for five days on Man United’s system. There were changes of positions, and people needed to be more aware and do different things. I thought we coped very well with that.”
Manchester United are set to complete the €75m capture of Argentina international Angel Di Maria in the next 48 hours, but while the Real Madrid winger will undoubtedly add some much-needed quality, van Gaal’s need for reinforcements in other areas of the field appears more pressing.
“We lost a lot of balls in situations I don't expect,” said van Gaal. “When you lose a lot of balls, you have to run after the ball to win it back. Then you are not in the match.
“We were dominating in the second half, but you need creative passing in the last third and that was also not so good. We were dominating without creating chances and that is the purpose of the game. I think that's down to confidence.”