THE Sunderland squad assembled by Martin O’Neill looks set to be broken up as the club plans a summer clear-out.
And big-name stars such as Stephane Sessegnon and Simon Mignolet could be offloaded – with every player having their price.
Meetings are being held at Black Cats House to discuss the way forward – in terms of who might be allowed to leave during the current close season and which clubs might be, or already are, interested.
And the signs are that the Sunderland squad which starts the new Premier League season in August will be radically different from that which completed the last one.
The club confirmed this week that Roberto De Fanti has taken up the newly-created position of director of football and will work closely with the club’s new chief scout Valentino Angeloni in bringing new players to the club.
Already the pair have managed to get four Bosman signings past the post and Valentin Roberge, of Portuguese side CS Maritimo, Lazio’s Modibo Diakite, Basel’s Cabral and French youngster El-Hadji Ba, of Le Havre, will all arrive on Wearside next month after their contracts with their current clubs formally expire.
But as well as incomings there are also expected to be outgoings too as new head coach Paolo Di Canio seeks to put his own stamp on the club despite the Wearsiders having one of the smallest squads in the Premier League.
While De Fanti and Angeloni will be primarily occupied this summer solely with bringing new players into Sunderland, the club itself will continue with the process of listening for offers for players that the new head coach is prepared to let go.
In addition, the club will also consider offers for star players like Stephane Sessegnon and Simon Mignolet – although any bids would have to be substantial.
The clear-out began with the announcement earlier this month that several players out of contract, including Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon, would be allowed to leave.
And Phil Bardsley’s representatives are looking for a new club for the defender, who fell foul of Di Canio’s hard-line on discipline at the end of last season when he was pictured lying on a casino floor after a night out.
But whle Bramble, Kilgallon and Bardsley have all been, to one extent or another, anticipated departures, others are set to follow.
Di Canio will listen to offers for many of his squad – players that he feels are not talented enough, or disciplined enough, to take the club forward.
But as the club undergoes financial restructuring this summer, owner Ellis Short will look at all offers for players with, ultimately, everyone having their price.