Reports from Austria claim that Sunderland hold a strong interest in bringing former Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion defender Paul Scharner back to the Premier League.
It has been suggested that Scharner, who is struggling for games at HSV, is a loan target for Martin O'Neill, though the Austrian would not favour a permanent deal at the end of it.
His agent, Valentin Hobel, told the press:
"Sunderland want to borrow Paul. HSV would agree, however, Paul deson't want any more than that."
"Paul wants to play in Hamburg next season if he can. For this he needs match practice, which would probably be at Sunderland. "
"We will look for a loan deal until end of season and then return. Let's see if the Sunderland offer works."
The prospect of a 32-year-old coming in without any real prospect of a longer-term stay or desire to embrace the club is nothing to really get exciting over. There will be some worried that the unusually candid admission from his agent, that Scharner essentially sees Sunderland as some kind of convenient training camp.
Sometimes you just have to accept s deal for what it is, though - a short-term no-strings mutually beneficial fling. I will let you all come up with your own analogies.
From a football point of view, it would make sense. Scharner would not need time to adapt to the Premier League and would be able to offer some very reliable and experienced cover for the injury-prone John O'Shea in defence. He could just as easily step into the midfield to provide some physical presence.
Additionally, It would satisfy the criteria that O'Neill laid out for his January plans earlier this month:
"[Y]ou can look for short-term loans for people who might want to prove a point.
"We're a bit short at centre-back. Wes (Brown) is still not fit and you're never sure about John (O'Shea). You don't want to be short and the lad wanted to come."
"There may be other short-term loans that could bolster us immediately."
Certainly one to watch with interest.