There seems to be a lot more transparency about Sunderland’s dabblings in the transfer market this summer.
Simon Mignolet’s departure was on the cards for a week or more before Liverpool finally signed him and we even had a chance to laugh at his preposterous agent Kristof Vandersmissen’s protestations that Anfield was not even involved in talks to buy him.
And in the last half-hour, the Northern Echo had this to say about the probable capture of the USA striker Jozy Altidore:
“Di Canio is keen to work in pre-season with only the players he wants to rely on next season and is hoping American striker Altidore will fly out to Italy in the next 24 hours.
Altidore, 23, was on Wearside yesterday to undergo a medical and discuss his contract demands ahead of a £6m switch from AZ Alkmaar. A deal will go through today.
He will then head out to join his new team-mates in Peschiera Del Garda for the next nine days, where Di Canio could still have further new additions joining him before they fly back to the North-East.”
I have stuck my head on the block and speculated that this will/would be a terrific signing setting up the prospect of Sunderland’s most exciting strike partnership since the heady days of SuperKev and Quinn.
My full piece about Altidore can be found at the ESPNFC.com site: http://www.thesportreview.com/tsr/2013/06/exclusive-simon-mignolet-agent-liverpool-interest/. Here’s an extract:
At the sort of electronic gatherings of like-minded souls that I frequent, the sense of anticipation is almost tangible. “A damned good buy,” wrote one supporter rarely given to hyperbole. “Big, fast, powerful with a good scoring rate.”
Others spoke admiringly of the progress he has made, and his increasing maturity, since an unremarkable spell on loan in the Premier League at Hull City, a run of 28 appearances that produced just one goal (and a daft sending-off against Sunderland).
He was just 19 then; now he is 23. An exacting regime at Alkmaar inspired a healthily professional outlook. And the experience and guidance of Jurgen Klinsmann, in charge of the USA national side, will have helped his game considerably; we can but hope Klinsmann thought better than to pass on some diving tips, too.
Altidore knows enough about the Premier League to appreciate the fervour of supporters in areas such as Sunderland, just up the east coast from Hull. Assuming the concluding stages of the transfer pass without a hitch, he will have the chance to make himself a hero among fans whose heads are filled with memories of Phillips and handed-down stories, from before many of today’s supporters were born, of Brian Clough, Vic Halom, Gary Rowell and Marco Gabbiadini.
The Echo also said Fulham are showing interest in Lee Cattermole while others suggest they are keen on Phil Bardsley, neither of whom is playing any part in the Italian exercise. Bardo is quoted as saying it is clear to all he is not part of PDC’s plans. I wish both well but am perfectly content to see them go. Now we learn that Jack Colback, a magnificent servant in whichever role he was required to fulfill last season, is looking a challenge elsewhere after turning down a contract extension. That is much more disappointing – but not enough so, even then, to cause sleepless nights. If PDC feels there are very few in the squad he needs to fight to keep, the evidence of results appears to support him.
Towards the end of the ESPN article, I also offered the one quote from PDC that would commend him to me if nothing else did …
And then, best of all, this priceless pledge: “My team and the players I select will always have to wear this shirt with honour, dignity and respect, otherwise they can’t play under me.”
Two full backs, young Benjamin Mendy and, unless he has a change of heart, Velez Sarsfield’s Gino Peruzzi, seem unlikely quite to meet those criteria.
Mendy is opting for Marseille – deadly dull football but nice part of the world and they did finish second top in Ligue 1 last season – and Peruzzi is demanding a bigger pot of money than the one he’s been offered.
Stop Press: PDC would probably would have looked elsewhere had Peruzzi not mellowed on hearing improved terms. He is now said to be heading for Wearside to finalise a move; more on that can be safely expected to follow.