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And so it begins...Celtic 'want' Fabio Borini & West Ham poised for Lamine Kone

With relegation now almost certain, today has marked the opening of transfer gossip season as fresh links for those likely to leave Sunderland in the summer spring up.

Burnley v Sunderland - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Sunderland's Premier League status is on life-support and the vultures are circling. With much of the match-day starting eleven likely to depart the Stadium of Light upon relegation, Black Cats supporters can brace themselves for a summer filled with exit-rumours.

According to Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Celtic are lining up a bid for Italian attacker Fabio Borini.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The move would reunite Borini with Brendan Rodgers. The Parkhead chief worked with the player who turns 27 at the end of this month during his spells at Chelsea and at Swansea.

Borini rose through the youth system at Stamford Bridge when Rodgers was reserve team coach and his new head of recruitment at Celtic Lee Congerton was chief scout.

The forward spent a season at Swansea on loan during the 2010-11 campaign when Rodgers was Swans manager before he moved to Liverpool. Borini would follow his boss to Anfield in 2012 but he never quite made the grade on Merseyside.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League
Brendan Rodgers with Fabio Borini at Liverpool in 2014
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As Director of Football, Lee Congerton was instrumental in signing Borini for Sunderland first on loan in 2013 and then in a permanent deal worth up to £10m in the summer of 2015. That was during Dick Advocaat's spell as manager at the Stadium of Light.

His predecessor Gus Poyet had pursued the Liverpool attacker the previous season in a protracted chase which culminated in Borini opting to stay at Anfield.

It's thought that Congerton was a champion of Borini when he finally arrived at Sunderland on a permanent basis whilst Advocaat was unconvinced and had insisted the club sign a physical target man instead.

Utilised as a wide man by successive managers, Sam Allardyce and David Moyes, Borini has cut an increasingly frustrated figure in a red-and-white shirt. This season has been a particularly disappointing one, with just one goal in seventeen appearances for the former Italian Under-21 international who has one senior cap for his country.

Borini picked up an injury at the start of the campaign and subsequently missed nearly three months of this season under David Moyes. Since his return, he has started fourteen games in a variety of positions up front or out-wide on the left and the right flanks.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Sam Allardyce congratulating Fabio Borini on scoring his second goal for Sunderland against Crystal Palace last season
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Whilst the links to Rodgers and Congerton are easy ones to make, Sky man Di Marzio has a long history of advocating the fortunes of the Italian contingent at the Stadium of Light.

Most transfer rumours featuring either Borini or his compatriot Vito Mannone tend to stem from the Italian journalist and he appears to enjoy a close relationship with another former Sunderland Director of Football Roberto De Fanti who now represents both players.

Borini was linked with a move back to Italy in the most recent transfer window with AS Roma and AC Milan said to be possible destinations. And Mannone was rumoured to be interesting Palermo and Aston Villa. Ultimately, De Fanti went public to indicate neither would leave the Stadium of Light in January but that they would consider their options this summer.

This fresh rumour comes after a day of gossip linking Sunderland centre-half Lamine Kone with West Ham. The Hammers are said to be lining up a bid for the Ivorian having been keen on his signature in January.

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