GUS POYET concedes Sunderland will be in a “dangerous position” unless they complete at least two signings before the transfer window closes on Monday night.
Argentinian midfielder Ricardo Alvarez is expected to arrive on Wearside later today to complete the technicalities of a season-long loan from Inter Milan. The Black Cats have agreed to pay a €1m loan fee to secure the 26-year-old’s services until next summer, and have also negotiated a potential €11m deal to buy him permanently at the end of the season.
A deal for Alvarez would solve one of the problems Poyet is desperate to address before the transfer window swings shut, but the Sunderland head coach also accepts he badly needs to recruit another defender in the next three days.
A loan deal for Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates is under serious consideration, although with Premier League rules stipulating that clubs can only loan one player from one of their top-flight rivals, the Uruguayan’s arrival would categorically rule out another loan deal for Fabio Borini.
While Borini has had numerous chances to commit himself to Sunderland this summer, only to repeatedly refuse to do so, Poyet still remains reluctant to call off the Black Cats’ pursuit of the Liverpool striker until he moves elsewhere.
Virgil van Dijk is an alternative option, although Sunderland are not currently in a position to match Celtic’s £6m asking price for the Dutch defender, while Black Cats officials have also held discussions with their counterparts at Lokomotiv Moscow about former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka.
Poyet remains confident someone will arrive before the transfer deadline, and admits a failure to recruit another centre-half would leave his side extremely vulnerable between now and January.
“If we don’t get the players in, we’ve got a problem,” said the Sunderland head coach. “I’m talking about the quantity of players that would leave us with.
“In a normal squad, you’ve got a certain number of players to be able to cope with the season. If (we didn’t sign anyone) it would be dangerous, very dangerous.
“We have to get those players in, but we will, don’t worry. It’s not like we are okay in terms of numbers and these two would be extra. It is not about adding a bit of extra quality or adding to things, whatever players we bring will be extremely important to the squad.
“We are trying to get specific players though, not just anyone. That’s why it has been a little bit more difficult. I think it’s clear what I want, but we need a certain kind of player.”
As well as looking to recruit before Monday evening, Poyet remains keen to trim some of the remaining fringe players from his squad.
French club Reims are in talks over the future of Valentin Roberge, while reports circulating in France last night suggested Modibo Diakite had agreed to the cancellation of his contract at the Stadium of Light in order to expedite a move to Fiorentina, where he spent the second half of last season on loan.
Cabral is also expected to move on before the transfer window closes, but despite having previously claimed he might have to sell Connor Wickham if the striker did not sign a new contract, Poyet is now confident one of his side’s leading lights will not be going anywhere.
Wickham’s contractual situation remains a source of contention, with the England Under-21 international having entered the final year of his current deal, but with his importance to the team having grown considerably in the final month of last season and the first few weeks of the current campaign, Poyet insists he is not coming under any pressure to move him on.
“I previously said that in the situation Connor is in, either he signed a new contract or the club needs to sell and that was simple,” he said. “But I didn’t say we offered him a contract – we didn’t – so nobody needs to accept an offer they haven’t been offered.
“I didn’t say anything about an offer. That was the normal situation with any player, but Connor is under 23 so in this case, that brings compensation to the table.
“I think that if Connor keeps playing and scoring goals, he will want to stay here because he feels important. I am confident he will stay except, like any other player, if a top, top club comes for him. And I’m confident that when this transfer window finishes, he will sign.”
Wickham is set to remain on the left-hand side of Sunderland’s midfield at Loftus Road this afternoon, with Poyet poised to name the same side that drew with Manchester United six days ago.