SUNDERLAND are considering selling Stephane Sessegnon in order to fund the purchase of the creative midfielder that manager Paolo Di Canio craves.
The Italian head coach is desperate to land a player who will pull the strings in the middle and bring out the best in a new attack-minded 4-2-4 formation.
Di Canio returned to the subject again at the weekend after Sunderland’s 1-0 home defeat to Fulham, insisting that sort of player could have made all the difference.
But with the Black Cats – who lost out on Spurs midfielder Tom Huddlestone to Hull City last week – now struggling to manoeuvre in the transfer market, the club’s only option might be to sell the Benin international to fund more moves.
That move would be unwelcome, although not unacceptable to Di Canio – who underlined he wants to keep him.
But should Sessegnon – the subject of interest from Qatari side El Jaish – go, the Italian would push hard for a creative midfielder AND a replacement striker.
Di Canio explained: “I have given my opinion already: Sessegnon is not for sale, and we need to bring in one central midfield player.
“I don’t want to sell him. But if he is sold, we have to bring in a central midfield player and another striker.
“If someone wants to sell Sessegnon, I won’t criticise if they bring me a striker with quality and experience and a central midfield player – but not one brought in as cover, not a kid – I need a central midfielder with a background, good quality, physical presence and experience.”
Di Canio revealed his pecking order for new signings before the transfer window closes – with a left-back only third in line on his list.
The Black Cats have been strongly linked with a move for Juventus left-back Paolo De Ceglie in recent days with several sources claiming that a season-long loan deal for the 26-year-old could be finalised this week.
But Di Canio says that that strengthening the left-back position – seen as a priority after Danny Rose’s return to Spurs in the summer from a season-long loan – is not as important to him right now as the need to strengthen across the midfield.
“If we can bring in only one player, without selling Sessegnon, it would have to be absolutely a central midfielder,” he said.
“If we can bring two – it would be a central midfield player and a winger; and then if three players, a central midfielder, a winger and a left-back.”