Sunderland set to close in on Lazio centre-half Modibo Diakite

CHASING SIGNINGS: Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio
CHASING SIGNINGS: Sunderland's manager Paolo Di Canio

SUNDERLAND are ready to turn up the heat in their pursuit of Lazio defender Modibo Diakite after securing their Premier League status, according to reports in Italy.

French centre-half Diakite has been linked with a move to Wearside for several weeks, as Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio looks for cost-effective quality on the Continental market.

The 26-year-old is out-of-contract at Lazio in the summer and that has alerted Napoli, Juventus and several Russian clubs to his availability on a Bosman deal.

But reports from Serie A suggest Sunderland have identified the 6ft 4in Diakite as a prime target and will look to make progress on the deal over the next week, with the threat of relegation now over.

Milan-based agent Roberto De Fanti, expected to be confirmed as Sunderland’s new director of football, has been working on identifying players on the Continent since taking on a consultancy role with the Black Cats.

Portugese winger Diogo Viana has been targeted, while French centre-half Valentin Roberge is close to sealing a Bosman move from Portugese outfit Maritimo.