Sassuolo’s inspirational defender Francesco Acerbi on Sunderland’s radar

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Gustavo Poyet has readily admitted that Sunderland will be in the market for a striker in January with the Black Cats looking to improve their cutting edge in front of goal following a whopping 11 draws picked up in the first half of the season.

But that hasn’t stopped the north east side being linked with a centre back with quite a story to his name.

Just a year ago, Francesco Acerbi was told that the cancer he was diagnosed with at the start of the season, and subsequently fought off, had returned.

The 26-year-old underwent a course chemotherapy and was cleared of the disease in March.

The eight months that followed were spectacular for the centre back, as he shone for Sassuolo, a surprise package after their promotion to Serie A in 2013.

Having survived relegation in their first season in the top flight, I Neroverdi have started this season brightly and currently sit in 12th position.

Much of that is down to the high quality performances in the centre of defence by Acerbi.

The former Milan player was rewarded for his consistency with a call-up to the Italy national side, making his debut against Albania in a 2-0 win in November.

And now it looks as if the number 15’s career could be on for another change in direction, with a move to the Premier League potentially on the cards.

Reports suggest that Sunderland are tracking the defender with a view to purchasing him in January.

A bid of at least £4m is likely to be the bare minimum if Poyet to bag his man, and even then, they may have competition for his signature.

Greek side Olympiakos are also rumoured to be in the hunt to sign Acerbi, and have the added pull that they are likely to be able to offer European football should he join their ranks.

Nevertheless, a move to the Premier League is likely to be high on the agenda for this highly thought of defender.

He has already overcome the odds on a much bigger scale, could he now be the man to steer Sunderland away from the relegation zone?

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.