Sunderland snap up trio
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio is pushing ahead with his plans to rebuild his squad as he chases promising full-backs Gino Peruzzi and Benjamin Mendy.
On the day three out-of-contract signings completed their moves to the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats were closing in on the Argentinian and his French counterpart. The Wearsiders have agreed deals with Velez Sarsfield for Peruzzi and Le Havre for Mendy and are now working to put together personal terms to attract the pair to England.
Right-back Peruzzi, 21, played his part as Velez won the Argentinian Grand Final with a 1-0 victory over Newell's Old Boys at the weekend, coming on as a first-half substitute for Ivan Gonzalo Bella. Eighteen-year-old left-back Mendy too is firmly in Di Canio's sights, although amid interest from a series of other suitors, he is yet to commit himself to a move to the north-east.
Sunderland's need for reinforcements in defence is long-standing with the full-back positions a particular problem. Danny Rose played on the left for much of last season on loan from Tottenham, although midfielder Jack Colback had to fill in at times, while Craig Gardner spent more time than he would have liked deputising at right-back.
While there may still be work to be done on both of those deals, three more were formally completed on Monday when Valentin Roberge, Cabral and Modibo Diakite all officially became Sunderland players.
Central defenders Roberge and Diakite will reinforce a department which has been depleted by the departures of Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon, while defensive midfielder Cabral could have a key role to play amid speculation that skipper Lee Cattermole's days could be numbered.
All three men have signed three-year deals after allowing their existing contracts to expire at their previous clubs. Frenchman Roberge, 25, joins from Portuguese side Maritimo, for whom he played twice against the Black Cats' derby rivals Newcastle in last season's Europa League.
Born in Montreuil, he began his career at Guingamp before moving to Paris St Germain. The 6ft 1in defender spent two years in Greece with Aris before sealing his move to Maritimo, where he made 32 appearances last season, in 2010.
Diakite has spent the last seven years with Di Canio's former club Lazio, with whom he won the Coppa Italia in 2009.
Cape Verde-born midfielder Cabral, full name Adilson Tavares Varela, is 24 and has four Swiss titles and Champions League football to his name. He started at Lausanne and had a spell on loan in Spain with Sevilla Atletico before heading for Basle.