As Roker Report told you last week, Sunderland were reported to have agreed a deal to sign Valentin Roberge on a free transfer. The Maritimo central defender is out of contract in the summer and if the report was true would make Roberge the first signing of the Paolo Di Canio era.
In an update on our original story, there are reports coming out of Portugal, that Roberge has travelled to the North East, against the wishes of his club, to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Sunderland.
The report claims that the French defender had, in recent weeks, been trying to persuade Maritimo's president, Carlos Pereira, to give Roberge permission to travel to Sunderland in order to undergo his medical examination. Pereira was adamant that he would not allow such an important member of the squad to leave Maritimo for transfer talks whilst the Primeira Liga club were still in the hunt for European qualification.
Seemingly frustrated with Pereira's stance, Roberge has been in the North East this week to wrap up his move before returning to the Portuguese side for the remainder of the season. It's believed that the defender won't be an option for Maritimo manager, Pedro Martins, for their upcoming game with Vitória Guimarães, even if he returns to the Madeira based side in time for Saturday's crucial game.
Roberge, who has made 35 appearances in all competitions for Maritimo this season and has even chipped in with a couple of goals, appears certain to be the first new arrival under Paolo Di Canio. With Matt Kilgallon and Titus Bramble out of contract in the summer, Kader Mangane likely to return to Al Hilal and fitness concerns over Wes Brown, the centre of Sunderland's defence will be in need of fresh blood and Roberge looks like a good first step in what is likely to be an summer long rebuilding process.