Fabio Borini - Sunderland still in touch with the pack
Fabio Borini has been talking to Sky Italia and discussing the relegation battle at Sunderland as well as the fate of his fellow Italians in English football.
The former Liverpool striker remains upbeat about his team's chances of remaining in the Premier League and suggested there's still all to play for with the bottom of the table remaining tight despite successive defeats for David Moyes' men.
The 25-year-old said of Sunderland's survival chances:
I think we can be safe, we have been in worse situations and we were saved. We are only three points from safety - a single game - and still we are attached to those ahead.
Borini is now in his second spell spanning three seasons at the Stadium of Light and in truth he's looked battle-weary this term. The forward was injured during the early part of the campaign and missed three months with a groin problem. And since his return, the Italian has lacked the drive and commitment which endeared him to Sunderland fans during his first two years on Wearside.
His wife, Erin, was in the away end at Goodison Park on Saturday to watch her husband's side lose to Everton by two goals to nil.
Massive respect for @Erin_ONeill_Xo in the middle of the Sunderland crowd today , @borinifabio29 turned her into a hardcore fan ❤⚪❤⚪ #safc pic.twitter.com/o3zM1dtqVl— Beth (@_BethMoody99) February 25, 2017
With last season's champions, Leicester City, also firmly in the relegation mire and having sacked their title-winning manager just last week, Borini believes the Foxes have returned to their natural place in the league after last season's exploits:
Leicester are having the season they should have done last year, the interpretation has changed, they have to struggle for survival, but they won the championship. After winning I would have expected to see it again with this team, at least until the end of the season. We do not know what happened in the locker room though.
With his fellow Italian Manolo Gabbiadini making headlines for scoring five goals in his opening three games in English football - two of them against Sunderland - Borini can be forgiven for wishing Southampton had visited the Stadium of Light before the striker hit the Premier League.
And with the two men having played together at Under-21 level for Italy, Borini was all too aware of the threat Gabbiadini posed when he rocked up at the Stadium of Light with the Saints earlier this month:
I wish he could have arrived a few days later than the game against with us, Joking aside, he is scoring goals, he knows how to play, he is a great player.
Napoli, the club from which Southampton signed Manolo Gabbiadini, were linked with a move for the Sunderland man in the January window and may yet return to the Stadium of Light to land Borini as a long-term replacement for the striker they sold to the Saints for £14m.
Borini's agent, Roberto De Fanti, has already hinted the player will leave the Stadium of Light in the summer. And if Sunderland are relegated, the attacker would likely be one of the first out of the door - it is just a shame that he looks like he can't wait to be away already.
Swedish national coach visits England
The manager of the Swedish national team, Janne Andersson, has been in England during the past few weeks to run the rule over his country's stars playing in the Premier League.
And the 54-year-old has been to see Sebastian Larsson with a view to including the Sunderland midfielder in upcoming international matches. Sweden will play Belarus at the end of March in a World Cup qualifying game and then travel to Portugal for a friendly three days later.
Larsson hasn't featured for his country since Euro 2016. The 31-year-old underwent knee surgery after the tournament, only returning to full fitness and the Sunderland first team at the end of November.
On the Sunderland midfielder being likely to make his return to the reckoning for World Cup qualifiers, Andersson told Swedish media:
I saw several matches and met the players. We expect that Sebastian is one of the players who will be available. I am delighted that Sebastian is healthy again.
Larsson has been a regular in the Sunderland side since the turn of the year and has started in midfield in each of the last nine Premier League games; and whilst no one can question the commitment of the man who has played for seven different permanent managers at the Stadium of Light, the fact that he has only been on the winning side in one of the ten games he's started this season perhaps tells its own story.
Ligue 1 Defender Linked
Calciomercato have linked Sunderland with a Ligue 1 defender. The Black Cats have been active in scouting across the Channel in recent years with Didier Ndong, Lamine Kone, and Wahbi Khazri all plucked from the French leagues.
The Italian gossip site reckon Sunderland are monitoring AS Saint-Étienne centre-back Léo Lacroix.
The 24-year-old Swiss international signed for the French outfit last summer from FC Sion for three-million-euros. Since then he's endured a decent baptism to Ligue 1 who occupy sixth spot in the table. Lacroix has been a regular at the heart of Les Verts back-line which has conceded the third fewest goals in the division.
Sunderland have been linked with Lacroix before. Sky Sports and The Sun suggested he was a target for Sam Allardyce last summer. So, it's likely this one is is just an easy one for the gossip site to fill up its column inches during the 'close season' for transfer tittle-tattle.