Sunderland have signed Kosovo international centre-back Arbenit Xhemajli, with the player signing for two years.
He joins from Swiss side Neuchâtel Xamax, managed by ex-Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz, who were relegated from the Swiss Super League last season having finished last with 27 points.
The 22-year-old is Phil Parkinson’s fifth signing of the summer transfer window, joining Bailey Wright, Aiden O’Brien, Morgan Feeney and Remi Matthews.
Xhemajli will add much needed depth to the central defensive position, following the recent departures of Alim Ozturk, Jack Baldwin, Joel Lynch and Tommy Smith.
He stands at six feet three, adding much needed height to a team which has been highlighted for its poor aerial ability.
Also, Xhemajli is left-footed, which would make him a more suitable choice to play on the left of a back three accompanying Wright and Jordan Willis, instead of Tom Flanagan having to frequently cut inside.
He played 45 minutes during a trial game against Gateshead, where he hit the post from a header as Sunderland won 3-1.
Last season, he made 23 league appearances for Xamax, scoring twice and receiving eight yellow cards.
He played regularly on the left side of a back three, which sometimes included former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou.
Internationally, Xhemajli featured against England Under-21s for Kosovo during a 2-0 defeat last September, before making his full international debut during a friendly against Gibraltar in October.
The 22-year-old has been selected for Kosovo Under-21s to face England on Friday September 4th, where he will be tasked to face the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Rhian Brewster and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Should he be selected against Aston Villa Under-21s or Bristol Rovers, Xhemajli will become the first Kosovan international to play for Sunderland.