SUNDERLAND are hoping to sign Jonathan de Guzman and Ola Toivonen before Tuesday’s transfer deadline, although talks for both players remain difficult to successfully resolve.

Black Cats sporting director Lee Congerton has been in discussions with de Guzman and his representatives about a possible loan deal from Napoli, while Toivonen’s future should be resolved within the next 48 hours as he ponders a move away from French side Rennes.

Toivonen, a 29-year-old striker who played under Black Cats head coach Dick Advocaat at PSV Eindhoven, was close to agreeing a move to PAOK earlier this week, only for discussions to break down when the Greek side were only willing to offer a loan deal with a view to a permanent transfer next summer.

Their final offer was rejected by both Rennes, who want to remove Toivonen from their wage bill permanently, and the Sweden international, who would rather complete a full-time move away from Ligue 1 this summer.

Sunderland have been monitoring Toivonen’s situation throughout the close season, with Advocaat understood to have been championing his capture as he looks to enhance his side’s attacking options.

Talks with Rennes officials progressed yesterday, and it is hoped Toivonen will to travel to Wearside before the weekend to undergo a medical and finalise the details of his proposed switch.

The striker boasts nine goals in 43 appearances at senior international level, and spent five years with PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch Eredivisie before joining Rennes in a €2.5m transfer in January 2014.

His first six months in France were reasonably successful, but he gradually fell out of favour last season and has been on the field for just 16 minutes of the current campaign.

Congerton has also been pushing to sign de Guzman, and has agreed a €1.5m loan fee with Napoli officials, with a potential €4.5m permanent transfer also having been discussed for next summer.

However, Sunderland face fierce competition from Premier League rivals Bournemouth and French side Marseille, both of whom have been speaking to the 27-year-old and his representatives in recent weeks.

Marseille had been thought to be leading the chase, but De Guzman’s agent, Fabio Parisi, has revealed discussions with the French club had begun while former boss Marcelo Bielsa was still in place at the Stade Veldrome.

De Guzman is keen to leave his final decision as long as possible, raising the possibility of a frantic series of negotiations on deadline day. Parisi has, however, indicated that the likelihood of regular first-team football will be a key factor in his client’s next move.

“We are currently working with Napoli to try to find a solution that suits everybody,” he said. “The club (Napoli) must be protected, but we also have to think about the career of the player.

“He will have to make assessments a year away from the Europeans (Euro 2016), looking for a team that allows him to play continuously.

“Would that be Sunderland or Olympic Marseille? The problem with OM is that talks were in the pipeline before Bielsa resigned.

“De Guzman wants to wait a moment. If Sunderland are willing to take him on loan without anything else, we would probably take that into account. Bournemouth? Other English clubs have also moved, but always to borrow.”

With Advocaat pushing for as many arrivals as possible ahead of next week’s transfer deadline, Sunderland are likely to be linked to a host of players in the next four days.

That has the potential to be unsettling, but midfielder Jack Rodwell insists there is no risk of his team-mates becoming distracted as they prepare for Saturday’s Premier League game at Aston Villa.

“The transfer deadline can be a distraction if you allow it to be,” said Rodwell, who scored twice as the Black Cats beat Exeter on Tuesday to set up a Capital One Cup third-round game with Manchester City. “For us though, I think we’ve got so much to focus on in terms of the game coming up and the things we need to improve that I don’t really think it’s concerning us.

“It’s above all our heads really. It’s at board level and they’ll decide what happens, it’s nothing to do with us as players. We just focus on the games. There’s been talk that the club are going to bring more players in, and if that’s the case, great. If not, we know we’ve got a good squad anyway. As players, we just focus on the games.”

After hitting Exeter for six on Tuesday, Sunderland now boast ten goals in four games this season. They continue to struggle at the opposite end of the field, but having lacked an attacking threat in the early stages of last season, Rodwell is delighted to see the Black Cats proving so potent in the current campaign.

“It’s been a strange start to the season because it’s been the opposite to what it’s maybe been like before,” he said. “Defensively, we have a lot to work on at the minute, whereas in the past, it’s been the other way round.

“This time last season, we were solid and keeping clean sheets, but drawing games and struggling to score. This year, we’re letting too many goals in, but the flip side is that we’re causing teams problems and scoring goals of our own.”