SUNDERLAND are hoping to pull off a double deal for Inter Milan midfielder Ricardo Alvarez and Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk.
Alvarez is expected to travel to Wearside before the weekend to finalise a season-long loan from the San Siro, with Sunderland set to pay a fee of around €1m to secure his services until next summer.
At that point, the terms of the deal mean they will have first refusal on a possible permanent transfer worth around €11m.
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A potential sticking point is some last-minute interest from French side Monaco, although the Ligue 1 side are reluctant to complete any transfer business until the fate of their unsettled striker Radamel Falcao is determined.
Alvarez, who is 26, joined Inter in a £12m deal three years ago, and has made 90 senior appearances for the Italian side.
Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton has also been in touch with Celtic to discuss a move for van Dijk.
The defender was always likely to leave Parkhead if Celtic failed to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League, and Tuesday’s defeat to Maribor has convinced the SPL club’s hierarchy that the time is right to cash in on the Dutchman.
Swansea have also been pursuing van Dijk in recent days, and it remains to be seen whether Celtic’s desire to extract the highest possible price prevents Sunderland from being able to pull off a deal.
Finances are relatively tight on Wearside, and while a potential £6m price tag has been quoted, it would be a surprise if the Black Cats were willing to pay that up front.