SUNDERLAND’S lengthy pursuit of Lucas Orban could finally culminate in success this week to soften the likely blow of missing out on fellow left-back Benjamin Mendy.
SportMail reported last week how River Plate had emerged as favourites to land Argentine defender Orban, with the 22-year-old expected to snub Sunderland’s summer-long interest in his signature.
But River Plate, who hold 50 per cent of Orban’s registration, have seen their move hit several snags and the Club Atletico Tigre man’s future remains unresolved.
It is understood that Orban will make a decision on his career by the end of this week, but Sunderland remain in the running.
Sections of Orban’s camp believe a move to the Stadium of Light would represent his best chance of forcing his way into the Argentina squad for next summer’s World Cup and are urging him to join the Black Cats.
And if that proves successful, it would represent a major boost for Paolo Di Canio’s hunt for a new left-back, with Sunderland’s pursuit of Mendy increasingly looking as if it will end in failure.
The Black Cats were confident of securing the signature of highly-rated Le Havre defender Mendy last week after the 18-year-old held two days of talks on Wearside.
But French giants Marseille now look as if they will gazump Sunderland to Mendy’s signature, even though the Black Cats remain the only club to have agreed a fee with Le Havre.
Mendy visited Marseille’s pre-season training camp in Switzerland on Saturday and he is understood to favour a move to the club who have secured a place in next season’s Champions League.
Sunderland’s wage offer is a more lucrative one, but sources in France have told SportMail that Marseille are confident of finalising a deal for Mendy imminently.
That does still depend on them matching Sunderland’s offer to Le Havre though, with the French Second Division side’s president, Jean-Pierre Louvel, stressing over the weekend that Marseille need to make an acceptable bid.
“We have an agreement with Sunderland but not with Marseille,” said Louvel.
“There are no offers (from Marseille) at the moment. There is nothing materialized.
“He saw the facilities at Sunderland and it does not shock me that he has gone to visit Marseille.
“That sounds very normal for him to make his choice.
“But he knows that to seal a deal with a club, you have to get the green light from Le Havre and I repeat that we do not negotiate below the offer of Sunderland.”
If Marseille are to be successful, they will need to act quickly, with Mendy expected to make a decision before he links up with the France Under-19 squad on Thursday for the European Championships, in Lithuania.
Meanwhile, Argentine right-back Gino Peruzzi is expected to travel to England for talks with Sunderland after his club, Velez Sarsfield, confirmed they have agreed a fee for the 21-year-old, which is thought to be around the £3million mark.
Velez chairman Miguel Callelo said: “We reached an agreement quickly. Now Gino Peruzzi’s representatives and the English club need to reach an agreement.”
Sunderland will now hope to tie up a deal which has dragged on for the last fortnight.