Sunderland make move for Cuellar

SUNDERLAND have made their anticipated move to lure Carlos Cuellar to the Stadium of Light.

Cuellar has been told he will not be getting a new contract at Villa Park and the versatile Spaniard is among Martin O’Neill’s list of targets this summer.

The 30-year-old was signed by O’Neill during his time in charge of the Villans when he agreed to pay Rangers £7.8m for him four years ago.

But Cuellar’s career in the Midlands is coming to an end and he will become a free agent on July 1, when Sunderland hope he will become their player.

The 6ft 3in centre-back, who can also operate comfortably as a full-back, has also attracted interest from his homeland, where he started his career with Osasuna.

But, despite apparent rival interest in him from elsewhere including big spending Malaga, Cuellar is thought to be open to the idea of staying in the Premier League.

The prospect of teaming up with O’Neill again would certainly appeal and the Black Cats have had initial tentative discussions with the player’s representatives.

Sunderland are keen to make a number of changes to their squad before the start of the new season in August and O’Neill has already identified a number of free agents he is keen to attract to get things rolling.

The Stadium of Light chief is satisfied with the way the players he inherited from Steve Bruce last December turned things around under his leadership, but is still focused on making a number of his own signings.

And he thinks that by quickly making progress with a couple of free agents – similar to how Bruce did when he landed Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Keiren Westwood 12 months ago – then he can concentrate on wheeling and dealing in the transfer market.

There is every chance there will be a few surprise departures this summer, with the futures of Kieren Richardson, Asamoah Gyan and Craig Gardner among those to be very much unclear.

Sunderland, who have already released big earner Craig Gordon, could also be placed in to a predicament if a mult-million pound offer arrives on the boardroom’s table for prize asset Stephane Sessegnon, amid credited interest in him from Tottenham and Arsenal.

But O’Neill knows that whatever funds he can raise in the coming months will also boost his own recruitment drive.

As well as strengthening his defence, the Northern Irishman wants to bring in at least two players capable of adding double figures to Sunderland’s goal tally.

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