SUNDERLAND are believed to have clinched the signing of young Swiss midfielder Cabral.
Reports coming out of Switzerland suggest the 24-year-old – who has been a key figure for leading Swiss Super League side Basel in recent seasons – has agreed a four-year deal with the Black Cats.
Cabral, full name Adilson Tavares Varela, joined Basel from Lausanne in 2007, but has allowed his contract to run down, and is now available on a Bosman free transfer.
Should the deal be confirmed, the defensive midfielder will become Sunderland’s second signing of the close season with Altrincham’s teenage striker Duncan Whatmore having agreed a move to the Stadium of Light last week.
Cabral was born in the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, but took up an option to play his international football for Switzerland, and has been capped by the Swiss right through from Under-18 to Under-21 level.
In November last year though, he exercised his right to play for Cape Verde at senior level, and has since been selected to play for the island of his birth in a game against Ghana.
He is the cousin of ex-Manchester City midfielder Gelson Fernandes.
Sunderland are staying tight-lipped over Cabral, but have confirmed to the Gazette that so far he is yet to officially join the club.
That does not mean though that Cabral might not have signed a pre-contract agreement with Sunderland.
His contract with Basel does not expire until the end of June, which means he could not officially sign before July 1 anyway.
But he could agree a pre-contract, which to all intents and purposes makes him a Sunderland player in waiting.
Should Cabral’s move go ahead, it will be another sign of the road Paolo Di Canio and Ellis Short plan to take Sunderland down now.
Both Cabral, and French defender Valentin Roberge who plays for Portuguese side Maritimo, and is also available on a Bosman, appear to be deals which are all but done behind the scenes.
And when added to the acquisition of Whatmore – who was being chased by Stoke, Hull, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley and Wolves – it is clear that part of Sunderland’s new strategy is to recruit promising young players and develop them.
Di Canio identified, before the end of the season, the need to add athleticism and pace to the squad, as well as balancing it more in favour of younger, and thus less injury-prone players.
The fact that three players appear set to join without a substantial transfer fee being paid out is also an indication that Short wants to spend his money more shrewdly.
It would not rule out bigger transfer fees later in the summer.
But it would suggest that Sunderland also want to hoover up some of the best Bosmans around and young prospects at bargain prices before turning their attention to adding one or two more substantial names.
Short does not want to spend big this summer, and is looking at a restructuring aimed at getting the best possible value for money.
But he will also appreciate that Martin O’Neill was correct when he said his squad was “short of genuine quality”, and the American will know that it will be a struggle to tackle that issue on the cheap.