Boudebouz - the injured Algerian
Now widely reported, The Sun have claimed Sunderland are interested in Montpellier midfielder Ryad Boudebouz. The 26-year-old Algerian plays as a central attacking midfielder or as a second striker, and he can also operate on the right wing.
Boudebouz has had a decent season in Ligue 1, scoring seven times in sixteen appearances. He's a bit of a big fish at the moment in the small Montpellier pond and as a result has attracted attention from other clubs, notably Newcastle.
There's only two problems with this link. First, the player is injured - with a knee cartilage problem, and second - he doesn't seem to fancy a move just yet. Though his agent has suggested Boudebouz may be looking at his options, this will only be once he's back to full fitness and likely in the summer.
Would Sunderland lay out the £8.5m asking price on a player who will not return to fitness before the transfer window has shut? And whilst we have been active in the French market in the last twelve months - signing Didier Ndong, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri - buying from Ligue 1 is fraught with hits and misses for English Premier League clubs. In truth, despite some highlights and evidence of ability, none of our trio have yet proved able to perform at a level of consistency week in-week out.
That said, Boudebouz is just made for a terrace anthem. ♫ Voulez-Vous anyone?
CAN2017 - Lamine Kone Fit Again; Ndong Does 90. But exits looming
The Ivory Coast continue their stuttering quest for African Cup of Nations glory tomorrow. The current title-holders played out a goalless draw on Monday against Togo and have put themselves under a little pressure already.
And it looks like Sunderland defender, Lamine Kone, will be fit for inclusion in the squad having sat out the first game. Kone has been subject to a special fitness programme ever since he departed the shores of Wearside to get him in a match-ready state to be involved in the tournament.
The 27-year-old has been absent from all first team action and missed the Ivory Coast's warm-up games due to an injury he picked up colliding with an advertising hoarding at Burnley on New Years Eve.
You can watch Lamine Kone live - if he plays - tomorrow at 3.45pm on Eurosport1.
Wahbi Khazri will also be in action as Tunisia play their big rivals Algeria. The two neighbouring North African countries kick off at 3pm our time on Thursday. Defeat for the Sunderland midfielder may see his nation more or less eliminated from the tournament after they were beaten 2-0 by Senegal in their opening game.
Finally, Didier Ndong played 90 minutes for host nation Gabon yesterday as they played out a 1-1 draw with Burkina Faso. The Sunderland midfielder was industrious and had a decent game but he is another whose country looks likely to be eliminated at the group stage. Good news perhaps.
Sunderland had a representative watching Benfica v Boavista on Saturday. And it was something of a thriller with the away side racing into a three-goal lead only for the league leaders to peg them back and end the game in a draw.
Anyway, a Black Cats' scout was seen in attendance with Mika Domingues' representative - the agent of the former Boavista goalkeeper who has yet to make his first team debut between the sticks at Sunderland.
However, reports in Portugal claim the real reason for the Sunderland visit was to catch the Belenenses v Rio Avenue match the following day. Who could we have been watching?
The only one we can think of is Fabio Sturgeon. The 22-year-old midfielder has scored two goals in sixteen appearances this season for CF Belenenses and was linked with Celtic recently before the Glasgow club ruled out any move for the Portuguese Under-21 international.
Sturgeon was born to a Portuguese mother and an English father and as a result attracted interest from the England national youth set-up before opting to represent the country of his birth. He started life as winger but has increasingly impressed in a more central role and has potential as a future number 10.
A few million quid and we could do worse. Either that or we were in town to discuss giving Mika back.