SUNDERLAND are moving closer to boosting their threadbare full-back ranks, with the Black Cats nearing deals for coveted pair Gino Peruzzi and Benjamin Mendy.
Both Argentine outfit Velez Sarsfield and French club Le Havre respectively expect Peruzzi and Mendy to move to the Stadium of Light after reaching agreements with Sunderland for the defenders.
Right-back Peruzzi helped Velez to be crowned Argentine Super Champions on Saturday night, in what is likely to be his final appearance for the club.
Peruzzi has publicly indicated his eagerness at the prospect of moving to the Premier League, with the 21-year-old set to join Sunderland in a deal worth around £4million.
And Velez vice-president Julio Baldomar has confirmed: “The negotiations are very advanced,” in a switch which is likely to signal the end of Sunderland’s interest in Lazio right-back Luis Pedro Cavanda.
Peruzzi is rated as one of the brightest prospects in Argentina, with new Sunderland chief scout Valentino Angeloni missing out on a deal to take the four-time international to Inter Milan in the January transfer window.
The likes of Manchester City and PSV Eindhoven have been keeping tabs on Peruzzi, but the defender is eager to join Sunderland after speaking with Velez general manager and former Newcastle United midfielder, Christian Bassedas.
“In my opinion, it’s one of the best leagues because of the tempo played there,” Peruzzi said.
“I think English football is the most competitive.
“Bassedas told me about the city, the people, that there is a lot of respect, he said something about the team. He told me that he liked to play there.”
Mendy is also edging closer to sealing his deal, with Le Havre expecting the 18-year-old to swiftly agree personal terms over a move to the Stadium of Light.
Le Havre accepted a fee last week for the left-back, thought to be in the £2.5m to £4m bracket, although the French Second Division side have refused to confirm a figure.
Mendy was keeping his options open over his future, with the likes of Lyon, Marseille and Arsenal also interested in the France Under-19 international.
But, as the Echo reported last week, a move to Sunderland is an appealing one for Mendy and Marseille, at least, appear to be turning their attentions towards other targets.
Le Havre president Jean-Pierre Louvel said yesterday: “For now, nothing is done. We need the players and his representatives to agree with the leaders of Sunderland.”