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The Gossip: Sunderland 'Looking At' Ritchie And Full Back Deal Looks Close

Every Sunday, we take a look at the week's gossip with an analytical eye. This week was especially busy...

Given the amount of transfer speculation this week, it has been said that the plumes of smoke emanating from the keyboards at Roker Report Towers were so vast they caught a northerly breeze and briefly threatened to disrupt Icelandic airspace. Those reports are unconfirmed, but one thing we can say for sure is that we are knackered.

Here is the updated list of players (at least with a degree of credibility) linked with Sunderland so far this summer:

Valentin Roberge (Maritimo)
Mobido Diakite (Lazio)
Diogo Viana (F.C. Penafiel)
Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Emmanuel Cascione (Pescara)
Danilo D'Ambrosio (Torino)
El Hadji Ba (Le Havre)
Mauro Zarate (Lazio)
Bas Dost (Wolfsburg)
George Mandjeck (Auxerre)
Charlie Austin (Burnley)
Alfred Finnbogason (SC Heerenveen)
Greg Sandomierski (Genk)
Tom Allan (York City)
Salif Sane (Nancy)
Cabral (Basel)
Lucas Orban (Tigre)
Gary Hooper (Celtic)
Fraser Forster (Celtic)
Milos Krasic (Fenerbache)
Wilfried Bony (Vitesse)
Grant Holt (Norwich)
Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa)
Paulinho (Livorno)
Nacho Scocco (Al Ain)
Reto Ziegler (Juventus)
John Guidetti (Manchester City)
Josuha Guilavogui (Saint-Étienne)
Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli)
Luis Pedro Cavanda (Lazio)
Joseph Alfred Duncan (Inter Milan)
Alessandro Rosina (Siena)
Jonathan Biabiany (Parma)
Benjamin Mendy (La Havre)
Scott Parker (Tottenham)
Johan Elmander (Galatassaray)
Abel Hernandez (Palermo)
Remi Gomis (Valenciennes)
Matej Vydra (Udinese)
Mejdi Traoui (Espérance de Tunis)
Jozy Altidore (Az)
Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Vito Mannone (Arsenal)
Jérémie Aliadière (Lorient)
Jeroen Zoet (PSV)
Ibrahima MBaye (Inter)
Daniel Bessa (Inter)
Gino Peruzzi (Véles Sarsfield)
Callum McManaman (Wigan)
Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham)
Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Heerenveen)
Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth)
Chung-yong Lee (Bolton)
Robert Acquafresca (Bologna)

Like a slightly perplexed and somewhat embarrassed opening batsman who has been the beneficiary of some truly shocking bowling, we stand in the middle, bat raised saluting our double-quick half century. The 9 new names this week takes our running total to 54, and it is worth noting that the transfer window technically isn't even open yet.

Amid the rumour and speculation, there does at least appear to be a couple of very solid links this week.

Even the most 'glass half full' of us would struggle to get excited about the prospect of a barely tested third choice Arsenal goalkeeper with a reputation for howlers, but it seems that Vito Manonne's move to Sunderland is very much a reality. You'd have to assume he is arriving primarily as cover for Kieren Westwood, but also considered capable of at least providing some competition.

The fee of £2.8m reported in some papers is tough to believe though. Remember we are talking about a player the selling club doesn't want and who only has a single year left on his contract. I'm taking talk of a fee at this point with a pinch of salt.

Much more exciting, however, is the pursuit of Gino Peruzzi. The Vélez Sarsfield right back seems to be on the verge of a shock move to Wearside. He himself has been speaking openly about the club to the Argentine press, and the Vélez president is quoted describing the deal as being at 'an advanced stage'.

Especially noteworthy was that the 21-year-old Argentina international was left out of Vélez's Super Final line-up against Newell's on Saturday. He joined the action as a first half substitute following a red card to his deputy and played particularly well, it must be said, helping his side to a 1-0 win.

Now I acknowledge that as a Sunderland fan cup finals are something of an alien concept to me, but I am pretty sure you don't leave out your best player because of speculation.

I won't sit here and pretend to be an expert on the player, but just about everyone we have asked who has some knowledge of Argentinian football is genuinely stunned that Sunderland even have a chance of getting him such is his quality, so it should certainly be considered a coup if De Fanti and co can push it through. Fingers crossed.

Elsewhere there was the biannual link with Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tom Huddlestone. Every transfer window the hulking former Derby County man is said to be attracting Sunderland interest, but this time it does seem more tangible.

The Sunderland Echo ran an exclusive claiming talks with the midfielder, and whilst the interest is understood to be genuine, I am not sure anything is especially imminent. As we have found out in the past, things have a tendency to drag when dealing with Spurs.

That said, Sunderland buying players from Tottenham is SO 'noughties'. Now we seem to have an obsession with dealing with Internazionale instead. The pursuit of Alfred Duncan is ongoing, but following a meeting between the two clubs in Milan two further names emerged as targets: Ibrahima MBaye and Daniel Bessa.

MBaye, an 18-year-old Senegalese centre back, may prove out of reach given even moneybags Monaco failed to ensnare him earlier this month, but there appears to be a far greater inclination from Inter to trade the latter. Bessa is a classic 'number 10' of Brazilian descent, and though he is highly-rated it has been suggested that he may struggle to fit into the tactical model of new coach Walter Mazzarri.

It is unclear at this time whether it is a loan deal that is being mooted or a permanent one, but it is a link worth following.

There have also been strong links to wingers this week. Callum McManaman was claimed to be a £7m target, though it is difficult to see him going anywhere but Everton. Bolton's Korean Chung-yong Lee was also said to be the subject of a Sunderland approach, but there seems little in that one either.

A less high profile name but arguably more interesting is that of Matt Ritchie. It wasn't even in a transfer story, but tucked away inside Harry Redknapp's column in The Sun. The QPR boss said:

Matt Ritchie is the winger who brought about the end of Paolo Di Canio as Swindon boss when the club sold him to Bournemouth behind his back.

Ritchie, 23, is another little ’un and I saw a fair bit of him in action for the Cherries last season.

The club has moved up to the Championship but Ritchie is one of those who could go on even higher.

Matt was a young kid in the Portsmouth Academy when I was manager there and showed great promise. When I left, he left too and went to Swindon.

He can play wide right, wide left and is a terrific passer of the ball.

I believe Di Canio, now managing Sunderland, is looking at him again — and he is a player who could go on to make it at the top level.

It could well be nothing but open speculation, but it is at least noteworthy. There tends not to be a transfer pie that Redknapp doesn't have a finger in, he is well connected at Bournemouth, and has connections to both Di Canio and the player.

Given Ritchie has excelled under the Italian before, is just 23, and is not tied down to a fat contract somewhere, he would fit in with the other players being targeted this window. With so many foreign players apparently heading to Wearside this summer, the fact Ritchie qualifies for the homegrown quota may also prove an added incentive. Who knows?

Anyway, we have descended into speculation ourselves now, so it is probably time to wrap this up for another week.

Remember you can keep up with all the stories as they happen via our DEDICATED SUNDERLAND TRANSFER CENTRE.

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