Stalled Leicester Target Linked
Leicester City have been linked with Francesco Acerbi since before the transfer window opened. The Sassuolo centre-back has supposedly been the subject of an £8m bid from the current Premier League champions. But as the Italian club consider their options, Sunderland have joined a list of clubs said to be monitoring the situation.
But the Serie A club have rebuffed Claudio Ranieri's initial approaches and insisted the 28-year-old is a key figure in their plans as they battle to keep their heads above the relegation-threatened clubs in Italy's top division. Currently fifth bottom, the Modena-based outfit are in the midst of a miserable win-less streak stretching back to early December.
And with interest in Sassuolo's experienced centre-half swelling, reports in Italy have suggested Sunderland have joined the lurking pack of outfits interested in plundering one of Serie A's smallest clubs - a pack that includes West Bromwich Albion and Inter Milan.
Acerbi has a reputation in Italy for his resilience, particularly since his battles with testicular cancer - having beaten the disease twice; and at 6ft 3in he can be a formidable opponent at the heart of defence.
It's likely Sunderland have merely been added to this rumour as a make-weight with the Italian club insisting they will not sell - for £8m at least - and resisting Leicester's initial interest. And with David Moyes likely only in the market for a centre-back should he receive a suitable bid for Lamine Kone, put this one on the back-burner.
Jeremain Lens' Dad Wades In To The Fenerbahçe Loan Saga
Jeremain Lens' father has said he will speak to Sunderland boss David Moyes personally, if need be, to ensure his son can see out his Turkish dream.
The Dutch winger is on loan at Fenerbahçe and is the current darling of the fans and media who follow the Istanbul club.
And so, faced with a growing panic that Sunderland will cash the player in to the highest bidder, the Turks have drafted in the big guns to convince Moyes et al that they should show a little mercy and allow Jeremain Lens to complete his destiny and sign permanently for the yellow-and-blue shirted Super Lig outfit.
The latest agitator for the 'sell him to us' campaign is no other than Jeremain's father, Ricardo. Lens senior told Turkish media:
I want Jeremain to stay in Istanbul and continue playing for Fenerbahçe. If necessary, I will personal endeavour to do so. I am ready to talk with Sunderland's managers.
His son, Jeremain, had invited his dad to the Turkish capital for a holiday and Lens junior continues the clan's heartfelt plea:
My family had some concerns about my life in Turkey, but they have come to see. They admire the city's history and natural beauty. They also consent to me continuing with Fenerbahce. I hope to stay here next season.
It's difficult to fathom what the Lens-brigade expect from Sunderland - a club who are adamant they expect to recoup the £8m originally invested in the Dutchman during the summer of 2015. Potentially they may well be hoping another season out on loan is granted - which would explain the agitating plea that the player is granted more time in Turkey.
With reports of Ellis Short's cash-strapped coffers now widely circulated throughout the football world, there is likely a growing concern that Jeremain Lens will be flogged as soon as chance, and a decent bid, arises. Whether Fenerbahçe, currently managed by former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, can afford the player is another matter - or at least make his wage demands fit their current pay structure. The Turkish club were fined last year for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations.
PSV Eindhoven are one of the other clubs whose interest in Lens continues to be reported. The 29-year-old spent three successful years with the Dutch giant, scoring 34 goals in 96 appearances, and that spell in his career was where he completed his transformation from a traditional number nine into a more versatile second striker or winger.
Meanwhile, the Fenerbahçe player mooted as a make-weight in a deal to take Sunderland midfielder Wahbi Khazri to Turkey - Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike - is rumoured to be on his way to Brazil instead. The 29-year-old is set to move to Coritiba FC for 300,000 euros.
Khazri On The Return Flight Home?
So, the curse has struck again - a little. Wahbi Khazri jetted off to link up with his Tunisian teammates a few days ago, lined up against Egypt yesterday in the capital Alexandria and managed 17 minutes before succumbing to injury like so many of his Sunderland teammates this season. He certainly looked in pain.
But with an update to allay the fears of Tunisian's everywhere, there is every chance the 25-year-old's African Cup of Nations tournament will continue even before it had began as he only suffered a "mild" injury according to an update this morning.
Nothing is confirmed as yet in full, but Wahbi Khazri has not yet joined the list of Sunderland players whose transfer-window rumours have been quickly curtailed by injury.