Paolo Di Canio could turn to ex-Lazio team-mate Paolo Negro for key Cats role

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FORMER Lazio defender Paolo Negro could be a contender if Sunderland opt to appoint a director of football this summer.

Di Canio was hired under the title of head coach after succeeding Martin O’Neill last weekend – sparking speculation over whether Sunderland will adopt a Continental approach to their management structure.

Although Di Canio told SportMailearlier this week that the job title holds no particular significance and he will have the final say over transfers, Sunderland owner Ellis Short has been keen for greater scrutiny over the Black Cats’ dealings in the market.

That could see Sunderland appoint a director of football – a measure Di Canio was keen to initiate at former club Swindon Town.

Di Canio twice attempted to name Negro, who he played alongside at Lazio at the tail end of his career, as Swindon’s director of football.

Since hanging up his boots in 2007, Negro has been in charge of lower league sides in Italy and was appointed as head coach of Serie D side Zagarolo last year, but ultimately opted not to join Di Canio at the County Ground.

Di Canio has wasted no time assembling his backroom staff at Sunderland, with assistant Fabrizio Piccareta, goalkeeping coach Domenico Doardo, fitness coach Claudio Donatelli and physio-masseur Giulio Viscardi joining him at the Stadium of Light.

But the director of football position is a long-term measure, with Short becoming increasingly sceptical over Sunderland’s transfer business under both Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill.

Short feels the Black Cats haven’t been able to get value for money in the market, and has cast envious eyes towards the business arch-rivals Newcastle United have been able to secure in the French market.