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.