Sunderland winning race for Nigerian World Cup star

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Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet has beaten rivals from Turkey in the pursuit of Nigerian World Cup star Michel Babatunde.

That is according to the player himself, who admits his time in Ukraine is nearing its end with the north-east his preferred destination.

Babatunde is currently plying his trade with Volyn Lutsk but after impressing at the World Cup, where he made two appearances for the Super Eagles before breaking his wrist against Argentina, he has a number of options to consider.

The Black Cats are 9/2 to be relegated this year after escaping the drop by the skin of their teeth last season and Poyet is hopeful that new arrivals in the middle in the park will mean a smoother ride this time round.

The Uruguayan faces competition for Babatunde’s signature, with two Turkish clubs also said to be interested, but will welcome the player’s latest comments.

“I have received an offer from several clubs but the one from Sunderland is the one that interests me,” he told SL10.ng

“I have received several offers from different places, but I’m interested in the one from Sunderland. They have contacted my agent and we will see how it goes from there.”

Should Babatunde make the switch to the Stadium of Light he could well line up in the Black Cats midfield alongside forgotten Manchester City man Jack Rodwell.

Reports suggest the club are keen on taking the former Everton man on loan as part of a double temporary swoop that would also see Chelsea centre back Kurt Zouma arrive in the north-east on a one-year basis.

Rodwell’s career has been in freefall since he made the switch from Goodison Park to the Etihad and the England man should jump at the chance to rebuild his career, while Zouma is seen as one for the future at Chelsea and would benefit hugely from game time alongside seasoned campaigners John O’Shea and Wes Brown.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.