MARTIN O’Neill has confirmed Sunderland have tabled “several” bids for players – but is staying tight-lipped on the state of the Black Cats’ £10million pursuit of Steven Fletcher.
Sunderland submitted an offer to Wolves over the weekend for the Scottish striker but have been knocked back by the Molineux club, who say they want closer to £15million for their star asset.
O’Neill is adamant that he will not “publicise” Sunderland’s business by confirming the bid.
However, he did admit for the first time that the club have also made offers for other players as they look to take a step forward in their recruitment drive. Sunderland are looking for two strikers and a winger as a priority – and are also chasing a left-back to add to their defensive options.
The Journal understands O’Neill is especially interested in John Guidetti of Manchester City.
The Black Cats boss said: “I don’t think it’s right of me to publicise what we’re trying to do at this minute. We have made a number of bids for a number of players right now, and we’re still waiting to hear back.
“All I can tell you is that we’re in a position to strengthen.”
While cagey on players coming in, O’Neill moved to quell talk of Connor Wickham going out on loan. The England under-21 man has been mooted as a potential makeweight in the Fletcher deal, with Wolves taking him on a season-long loan to dampen the blow of losing their top scorer.
But O’Neill said: “I didn’t say that at all. I’ve seen it in the newspapers. There’s an almost inevitable link that if I’m looking for an experienced centre-forward that the younger players would go out on loan. I suppose that follows, but I never said that at all.
“There is a possibility of players going out on loan. I have had umpteen calls about players going out on loan and I sometimes have to smile at myself, as if that’s our job here, to let players out on loan. The season hadn’t ended when I had three calls from three clubs asking about players going out on loan next season.”
O’Neill admitted that transfers take longer to complete now, and warned that it may be another few weeks before they are in a position to confirm a new recruit.
“My view is that transfer deals are more complicated than they’ve ever been before,” he said. “You have to try and satisfy so many people. Suddenly there’s agents involved, so it is more complicated. A long time ago, a manager called up another manager and a player went whether he wanted to or not, but this is not the case anymore.
“We’ve realised that over the last five, six, seven years or so it is more difficult to complete a transfer. There always seem to be sagas involved now and I don’t think that this particular pre-season will be any different.”
As Sunderland hold tight on transfers, O’Neill will look to give the majority of his squad a run-out in the trip to Sweden to play Helsingborgs. But the Black Cats’ preparations will have to be altered slightly because Stephane Sessegnon and Ahmed Elmohamady will sit out the trip due to visa issues.
“They’d need a visa which meant missing a day’s training – they’d have to collect them in person down in London, so we decided to leave them out,” O’Neill said. “They won’t miss a day’s training.”
As for the rest of Sunderland’s international contingent, they have returned in decent shape and should get their first taste of action soon.
“The likes of James McClean and Seb Larsson and John O’Shea won’t take too much to get fit,” O’Neill added.