Sunderland eye Champions League winner as spending spree continues

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The conveyor belt of foreign talent being imported into Sunderland is showing no signs of cessation as Paolo Di Canio plots an audacious swoop for Raul Meireles.

The Portuguese international is reportedly unsettled at Turkish club Fenerbahce and could be open to a return to the Premier League, where he spent time with Liverpool and Chelsea, winning the Champions League with the latter.

Sunderland’s ambition cannot be knocked as they look to avoid a repeat of last season’s near catastrophic relegation from the top flight. Were they to add Meireles to their ranks alongside the recently acquired Emanuele Giaccherini from Juventus, their 10/3 price for the drop would further diminish in value.

The Wearsider’s are lacking in central midfield creativity, with only Stephane Sessegnon the player comfortable enough on the ball to make things happen in the final third through the middle.

He, however, has often been utilised off the striker rather than in the deeper position that Meireles would operate in and, on top of that, has been repeatedly been linked with moves away from the Stadium of Light throughout the summer.

Were his sale used to free up the funds to make the Meireles move, it would be the strongest indicator yet of how Di Canio plans to overhaul the mentality of the north east club, replacing Sessegnon’s directness with a more calculated passing approach.

Assuming this is the stance Sunderland will be adopting in their first full season under their Italian coach, the futures of players like Lee Cattermole and James McClean must also be called into question.

The biggest question surrounding Sunderland’s ability to succeed this season will be whether the influx of new arrivals can gel quickly, but a top half finish – priced up at 11/4 with Ladbrokes – isn’t entirely out of the question.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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