Didier Ndong - could he leave this summer?
Sunderland's record signing Didier Ndong is gaining recognition for his performances at the heart of the Black Cats' midfield in what was a difficult season for the 22-year-old Gabonese international.
Reports in Italy yesterday suggested Ndong could be of interest to Serie A side Fiorentina. The Florence-based outfit have previously been linked with fellow Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson as they look to rebuild after a slightly disappointing mid-table finish in Serie A.
After a slow start in which he struggled to adapt to the English Premier League, Ndong emerged as a rare bright spot in a labouring Sunderland midfield.
In an admittedly desperately poor list, the former Lorient man quite possibly completed the season as the Black Cats' third 'best' player behind Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford.
And we forget that Ndong was a wanted man last summer with Spartak Moscow, Torini and Monaco keen on his signature before Sunderland moved for him on deadline day.
However, there are two very good reasons to keep hold of Ndong at the Stadium of Light this summer. First, no one is likely at present to pay £14m or above for his services to ensure the Black Cats don't make yet another big money loss on a purchase; and second, the young player is only going to get better and could yet be just a few years off being a top defensive midfielder.
He should also be extremely good in the Championship
Another Lorient player anyone?
Speaking of Lorient, after previous Sunderland raids on the French outfit for Ndong and his former teammate Lamine Kone, Sunderland have again been linked with striker Benjamin Moukandjo.
The 28-year-old Cameroon international has been suggested as a target for the Black Cats several times in recent years and was linked again yesterday by one French-based website.
Moukandjo has been with Lorient since 2015 and scored nearly a goal every other game in his 50-odd appearances.
As with all transfer gossip at the manager-less Stadium of Light right now, most of it is merely the most speculative of speculation.
Like Sunderland, Lorient were relegated to their country's second-tier in the season just ended. Much of the fallout for that demise has been linked to the French club not reinvesting the proceeds from Sunderland's purchases of their two star names - Kone and Ndong.
Moukandjo fancies his chances of a shot at English football with Crystal Palace being the other British club to be credited with an interest along with the Black Cats.
Moukandjo is one of Lorient's highest earners, but at £15,000 per week he should be within Sunderland's budget in that regard. His transfer fee may be a bigger problem though with a figure of up to 10-million euros being quoted in the French press as that required to secure his services.
Two more managers to cross off the list - for now at least
So Ryan Giggs has again played down reports linking him to the vacant manager's position at Sunderland.
The former assistant to David Moyes at Manchester United emerged as a hot favourite during the week to take the reigns at the Stadium of Light from seemingly out of nowhere.
A similar betting pattern had hit the odds for Giggs taking the job at Middlesbrough a week prior with the 43-year-old swiftly topping the favourites' chart for a day or so down the A19.
But the former Red Devils' midfielder has told Sky Sports he's had no contact from either north east club over their vacancies - probably to the relief of fans on Wearside and Teesside. Whether Giggs is really what either club need right now is dubious.
And speaking of Teesside, we can probably dismiss any lingering prospect of former Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka succeeding David Moyes at Sunderland. The former assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid is being tipped to take the vacant position at Deportivo Alaves in his native Spain.
Karanka faces competition for that job from Luis Zubeldia who presently coaches Colombian top-tier side Independiente Medellin.
The post at Alaves was vacated by Mauricio Pellegrino during the week. The Argentine former Valencia and Liverpool player is being strongly linked with the Crystal Palace job vacated by Sam Allardyce.