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Posts Tagged ‘Sunderland’

Sunderland Sign Three Freebies

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has strengthened his squad by adding three new players without spending any money. The Italian been scouring Europe for talent on the cheap and has raided his former club Lazio in Italy as well as FC Basel in Switzerland and Maritimo in Portugal to bolster his defence and midfield ahead of the new campaign with more signings still expected as he attempts to make his mark on the squad he inherited from Martin O’Neill in March.

The most well-known of the three new arrivals is twenty six year old centre-back Modibo Diakité, who joins from Lazio of Rome, where Di Canio spent some of the best years of his playing career. The six foot four inch defender was born in France to a family of Senegalese extraction but spent his formative years in Italy on the books of Sampdoria and then Pescara, for whom he made one first team appearance before signing for Lazio in 2006 aged nineteen. He didn’t feature much in his first three seasons there, but made a breakthrough in the 2009-10 season, playing 19 times in Serie A and making 28 appearances in total. He was back on the fringes of the first team the following season but had his best season to date in 2011-12, making 25 league appearances and a further eleven in cups. However, last season he didn’t feature at all in Serie A and was restricted to just one game in Lazio’s successful Coppa Italia campaign so he arrives short on match practice and eager to kick-start his career.

Diakité may find himself partnered in defence with fellow twenty six year old French centre-back Valentin Roberge, who arrives from Maritimo in Portugal. At six foot two, he will cut an equally imposing figure and the pair should ensure that Sunderland are strong at defending set pieces although neither has shown much promise at the other end, with only five career goals between them to date. Roberge began his career with French amateur and reserve clubs, including Paris-Saint Germain reserves, who he left to join Aris Salonika in 2008. He made twenty five appearance over two seasons for the Greek club before he moved on due to the financial crisis and joined Maritimo where he became a regular in the heart of their defence.

The third arrival is twenty four year old midfielder Adilson Tavares Varela, who is more commonly known by his nickname, Cabral. He was born in Cape Verde but grew up in Switzerland and played for the Swiss national sides from under eighteen to under twenty-one level before opting to play for the land of his birth at full international level. He began his professional career with Lausanne in Switzerland before moving to FC Basel and going out on loan to Sevilla reserves in Spain for the 2008-09 season. Upon his return to Basel he established himself as a regular in the first team squad and has made 91 appearances to date, scoring three goals, including one in the Champions League against Roma.

Sunderland dump Arsenal out of cup as Chelsea face replay

A second cup defeat in three days has ended any realistic hopes Arsenal had of ending their trophy drought before it reaches the seven year mark. Following hot on the heels of their midweek Champions League humiliation in Milan, Arsenal faced a tricky FA Cup tie at the Stadium of Light, scene of Thierry Henry’s late winner in the Premier League only seven days earlier. However, with the French striker heading back to America, there was no saviour this time around as Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland raced out of the blocks in search of revenge.

The Black Cats enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges and played with much more conviction than their opponents, whose injury crisis only deepened, with young Francis Coquelin forced off after only ten minutes, at the ground where they lost Per Mertesacker last weekend. Ramsey and Squillaci were also forced to leave the action prematurely soon after the interval, but by then the Gunners were already trailing to Keiran Richardson’s deflected shot in the 40th minute. Van Persie was perhaps unlucky to be denied a first half penalty, but Arsenal didn’t create many other openings and their fate was sealed in the 77th minute when a lightening break by Sessegnon and Larsson was rounded off by the unfortunate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who bundled the ball into his own net as it came back off a post.

England’s other Champions League representatives fared little better. Chelsea had to come from behind to earn a draw with Championship side Birmingham at Stamford Bridge, Davind Murphy having put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute, shortly before Juan Mata missed a penalty. Daniel Sturridge got the equaliser in the 62nd minute to force a replay.

In the other FA Cup Fifth Round ties there were wins for Everton, Leicester City and Bolton Wanderers against Blackpool, Norwich and Millwall respectively. The final three ties are being played on Sunday and see minnows Crawley Town and Stevenage take on Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur respectively whilst Liverpool host Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

Sunderland ready to target unsettled Swiss right-back?

Could the Swiss right-back be on his way to the North-East?

 Reports from Italian daily La Repubblica say that Lazio’s Swiss right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner is ready to quit the club and has set his sights on a move to the Premiership. 

With Sunderland in the market for a right-back having already failed in an attempt to secure the signature of Hamburg’s Ivorian international Guy Demel, could the un-named club be the Black Cats?

The 25-year-old Swiss international has been with Lazio since signing from French football in 2008, where he played with Lille helping them into the Champions League.  The 25 times capped international is a versatile character able to play both as a conventional right-back, as well as a more attacking right wing-back, and his surging runs up and down the wing have earned him the nick-name Forrest Gump from the Lazio-Ultras.

Lichsteiner has been linked on several occasions with a move to the Premiership, most recently with Everton in the wake of Euro 2008, but opted for a move to Lazio instead. 

However, the recent arrival of Danish international Jakob Poulsen from AGF Aarhus in the Italian capital in direct competition to Lichtsteiner, allied with a less familiar role on the right-hand side of a four man midfield playing in front of a back three, has convinced the Swiss-stopper it’s time to seek a new club.

Sunderland have been looking for a reinforcement in the right-back area, and were initially heavily linked with a move for Guy Demel before that transfer hit the buffers.  Reports in the English media say that the club have launched a £10-million bid for Portsmouth’s Younes Kaboul, but Lichtsteiner is likely to be available for a good deal less than that.

Lazio are still financially strapped for cash after several years staving off bankruptcy, and may be tempted into doing business for around £2-3 million.  Overall Lichtsteiner has made 26 appearances for Lazio this season in both Serie A and the Europa League, as well as playing 8 games for Switzerland as they eased themselves into the World Cup by winning their pool

Sunderland ready to challenge West Ham for Portuguese star?

Nuno Gomes in action for Portugal during Euro 2004

Reports today indicate that Sunderland might be ready to muscle in on West Ham’s plans to bring former Portuguese international Nuno Gomes to Upton Park.

With Sunderland on the verge of losing Kenwyne Jones to Liverpool, Black Cats manager Steve Bruce has wasted no time in identifying his potential replacement in the form of Benfica’s Nuno Gomes. The 33-year-old has been only a sporadic performer for Benfica this season despite being club captain, and is looking to revive his career away from his homeland.

Gomes, who has been targeted by several foreign clubs, including West Ham, shot to prominence during Euro 2000 when his attacking play aroused the interest of all the big-guns before he opted for a stint with Fiorentina.  However, his time in Serie A was far from happy, and he soon returned back to his former side Benfica, with whom he has remained since.  However, his excellent form when Benfica played both Liverpool and Manchester United, prompted interest back in 2006 from the Merseysiders, although a deal never came to fruition.

Offically Benfica have announced their reluctance to part with one of the more influential players within the dressing room.  Furthermore with several sides circling Javier Saviola, including supposedly Tottenham, the Lisbon-based giants may prefer to wait and see how that transfer pans out before turning their attention to the future of Nuno Gomes. 

The recent outstanding form of the like of Oscar Cardozo and Javier Saviola for Benfica, currently lying second in the Portuguese league but leading goal scorers, has seen Nuno Gomes more or less reduced to a supporting role, despite the fact he is still very much part of the international picture.  Nevertheless with the World Cup looming, Nuno Gomes can’t afford to spent the entire season warming the Estadio da Luz bench, so where better to head than its namesake the Stadium of Light?

The Premiership pair may face competition not only from Italians Livorno, who have been linked with several strikers this month including Rangers’ Kris Boyd, but also from further afield.  Uzbek side Bunyodkor have been credited with an interest; they are managed by Luiz Felipe Scolari, a former manager of Portugal, so well acquainted with Nuno Gomes.  Brazilian side Santos are also supposedly keen on trying to persuade Nuno Gomes to try his luck on the other side of the Atlantic.

The veteran striker would be a good signing for either Premiership side, thanks to his experience and versatility, as he can play both an out-and-out and a more withdrawn position.

Colin Kazim-Richards spurns Blackburn and Sunderland interest to join Toulouse

French sports-paper L’Equipe has reported today that one-time Premiership target Colin Kazim-Richards looks ready to ignore the interest of both Blackburn and Sunderland and opt instead for a new challenge in France.  

The Turkish international was available for transfer after being axed from the Fenerbahce first team after getting caught up in a sex scandal last year.  The former Sheffield United forward was one of a number of first-teamers allegedly involved in sex-marathons at various hotels around the Istanbul capital.  Upon hearing the news his manager, Christoph Daum no stranger to controversy himself, promptly dropped Kzaim-Richards and several others from the Fenerbahce first team. 

The 16-times capped Turkish international was targeted by several Premiership clubs including Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, with Hull City also credited with an interest. 

However, it would seem as if Toulouse have stolen in with an offer for Kazim Richards on an initial loan basis and a subsequent full deal to remain in France at the end of the season.  Toulouse consider the East-London born player to be the ideal foil for Andre-Pierre Gignac their French international, who has scored goals by the bucket-load, but has never had any genuine support in the team. 

The news that Kazim-Richards is having a medical at the time of writing in the south-west of France will be a blow to the Premiership-pair both of whom could use some attacking options at the moment.  Blackburn in particular have looked devoid of ideas in the wide areas, resorting to using Michel Salgado against Aston Villa down the right-wing against Aston Villa last week in the Carling Cup.

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