Jan Kirchhoff is set to be unveiled as Sunderland’s first signing of the January window after the Black Cats agreed a deal for the Bayern Munich defender.
The 25-year-old centre-back jetted into the region yesterday afternoon to hold talks over an 18-month deal and undergo a medical ahead of a £750,000 switch to the struggling Premier League side.
Kirchhoff is surplus to requirements at the German giants and was left out of the Bayern squad which flew to a training camp in Doha, with the defender flying to the North East instead.
His move was expected to be confirmed today, but Kirchhoff is not expected to feature at Arsenal in the FA Cup third round tie on Saturday.
Injuries have limited his game time for Bayern, but Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has moved early in a bid to strengthen a leaky defence.
The Black Cats have conceded 39 goals in their 20 Barclays Premier League games this season.
Kirchhoff – who spent last season on loan at Schalke and is out of contract in the summer – would reinforce Allardyce’s options in central defence, with Younes Kaboul sidelined for another six weeks.
The news of 6ft 5in Kirchhoff jetting to the region followed Allardyce’s revelation that he was expecting a transfer breakthrough.
“We have been very active in the last three weeks laying the foundations,” he said.
“New players can help lift the spirits of everyone – hopefully in the next week to ten days.”
Confirmation of Kirchhoff’s move would represent an earlier boost though after several weeks of talks between the two clubs.
Kirchhoff joined Bayern in the summer of 2013 as a free agent after spending five years at Mainz.
He made seven substitute appearances for Bayern, but then spent the second half of the 2013-14 season and the whole of the last campaign on loan at Schalke, with Bayern now allowing him to move on permanently.
A statement on the Bayern Munich website, referring to the trip to Qatar, said: “Not here is Jan Kirchhoff, who is with his advisors in negotiations on a possible change.”
It is understood that the deal for Kirchhoff does not, however, mean the end of Sunderland’s £5million interest in Lorient’s Lamine Kone.
The Ivory Coast international travelled to the North East last week and despite rumours the deal had fallen apart, it is understood that the deal is still alive with both clubs still negotiating.
A deal for Kone – one of three signings Allardyce has targeted – is proving to be more complicated than initially expected.
It is also understood that improving the spine of the team is key for Allardyce, with a new left-back NOT a priority.
Patrick van Aanholt has been a regular under Allardyce and while Sunderland will continue to monitor £7million-rated Olympiakos full-back Arthur Masuaku, they are not expected to try and sign him this window.
The Greek side have slapped the hefty transfer fee on their highly-sought after French left-back, who is being courted by several European big-hitters.