Sunderland are in pole position to land Adnan Januzaj, if Manchester United give the final green light for the winger to leave on loan.
It was revealed earlier this week that Sunderland were in talks over a season-long loan for Januzaj, who has seen his progress stall at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal.
We know what the situation is, and we are stronger than last season, there’s no doubt about that, although we still need one or two to help us a little bit.
It is understood that those discussions have personally involved Dick Advocaat and fellow Dutchman van Gaal, with the two veterans on excellent terms after decades together in management.
United have regarded Sunderland’s proposal favourably – particularly after the Black Cats previously helped in the development of Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans – and it is thought that they are at the front of the queue to take Januzaj on loan, despite interest from Everton.
However, there are two potential hurdles towards the deal being done before the end of the transfer window.
United are keen to rubber-stamp Pedro’s proposed £20million move from Barcelona before they sanction Januzaj’s departure.
And more significantly, Januzaj himself would have to agree to join Sunderland, although the 20-year-old is aware of Advocaat after the manager’s spell in charge of the Belgian national team.
But if Sunderland can secure a deal for Januzaj, it would represent a major boost towards the club’s attacking options, with the lack of firepower available to Advocaat the clear concern before the season gets underway today.
Sunderland were the second lowest scorers in the Premier League last season and Dutch international Jeremain Lens has been the only offensive-minded recruit so far this summer.
Advocaat has clearly been keen to recruit an attacking midfielder – capable of both creating and scoring – to his squad after Leroy Fer’s proposed loan move from QPR collapsed earlier this week.
And Sunderland have also been looking at striker options, primarily a targetman capable of holding the ball up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Jermain Defoe is expected to start today’s clash at Leicester, yet the England international has predominantly been used in an orthodox 4-4-2 throughout his career, rather than as a lone frontman.
Advocaat was not being drawn on Januzaj, or the positions he still wants to address at his pre-match press conference yesterday, although the areas that Sunderland need to strengthen are abundantly clear.
However, the message from the ex-Holland manager was that he wants a couple of further additions who are capable of immediately going into the starting XI, even if he has been pleased with the work done by sporting director Lee Congerton so far this summer.
“We’ve brought some players in, but we still hope at the end of the transfer window, to have one or two more,” he said.
“I don’t want to discuss positions, but we still need one or two players for the team, not for the bench.
“I still have concerns although Lee Congerton has done a great job to bring in (Sebastian) Coates for £2m, (Younes) Kaboul for £3m, (Yann) M’Vila for nothing and (Adam) Matthews for £2m.
“But normally if you bring in players for that money, they are bench players.
“For me, they have to play (in the starting XI).
“The only player we’ve brought in for big money is (Jeremain) Lens.
“But I’m not complaining.
“We know what the situation is, and we are stronger than last season, there’s no doubt about that, although we still need one or two to help us a little bit.”