SUNDERLAND are closing in on their first recruit of the January transfer window – Hungary international defender Roland Juhasz.
The Black Cats are hopeful of adding to their squad this week, and in Anderlecht centre-back Juhasz and France Under-21 midfielder Alfred N’Diaye, there are two likely arrivals. The club are locked in negotiations with Turkish side Bursaspor to try to make the latter deal happen.
N’Diaye has signalled to the Black Cats that he wants to make the move, but Bursaspor want nearer to £4million for the former Nancy schemer with Sunderland having only offered around £2.5million so far. There remains optimism that agreement can be reached, however. A move for Juhasz is more straightforward and O’Neill desperately needs a central defender after Carlos Cuellar joined John O’Shea on the injury list.
Sunderland hope to strike a cut-price deal for Juhasz in the next seven days, and the defender said over the weekend that he would welcome a move to the Black Cats, although Ukrainian side Dnipro are also keen to sign the 76-times-capped Hungary international.
The 29-year-old is seen as a good short-term fix at a decent price for the Black Cats, who would look to sign someone with more long-term value in the summer. Juhasz said: “I want to play football in Western Europe. The option of Sunderland in the Premier League is incredibly attractive, but I would not say no to Dnipro either.”
Juhasz has been made available by Anderlecht, who have made him train with the Under-21 team recently after signing a ready-made replacement in Bram Nuytinck. The former MTK Budapest player, who turned down a move to Rangers two years ago, has paved the way for his exit, which may go ahead for as little as £1million.
“I am incredibly hurt that, after seven years, it has worked out like this with Anderlecht,” he said.
The Sunderland boss certainly needs reinforcements quickly.
O’Neill could only name six substitutes at Bolton and, although he denied that he was sending a message to Ellis Short – “I get on reasonably okay with the owner, he’s well aware of the situation and wants to do something about it,” he said later – there was a reason for it.
“We really do now need to do some things (in the market). It is necessary. (Stéphane) Sessègnon cried off at the last minute before we boarded the plane,” he said.
“I could have given the shirt to a young lad, but I was slightly concerned because some young lad gets a shirt and thinks he is close to the first-team, but I am not sure.
“It was very late on, so it wasn’t a major plan. Sessègnon might have been available, but he was more sore than I thought he was. We could have called someone in for the shirt, but I want them to earn it.”
Sunderland were on the brink of an FA Cup exit on Saturday, having conceded an incredibly sloppy first goal and then failed to muster a recovery until Connor Wickham’s introduction in the second half.
With 5,000 supporters having made the trip to support the Black Cats, O’Neill admitted such an exit would have been far from ideal.
He said: “It took ages for us to properly recover from that and what you don’t want to do is go out of the competition meekly.
“We owed them something. They came down in their droves and have supported the club through thick and thin,” he said.
“We brought over 2,000 to Southampton just before Christmas then 40,000 at home and a contingent travelling to Liverpool. So we owed them something and not that kind of performance in the first half.”
Sunderland’s FA Cup replay against Bolton will take place a week tomorrow with a 7.45pm kick-off.