Ki on verge of Wearside move as Sunderland step up search for creativity (From The Advertiser Series)
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Ki on verge of Wearside move as Sunderland step up search for creativity
PAOLO DI CANIO arrived in London last night hoping to be told progress has been made in Sunderland's attempts to put the finishing touches to his first summer recruitment drive.
With Qatari club El-Jaish ready to step up moves to land the axed Stephane Sessegnon for £5m, Di Canio is stressing the need to bring in greater creativity to his team to director of football Roberto De Fanti.
After losing out to Hull City for Tom Huddlestone and failing in a bid to bring in an Englishman to play at the hub of his team, the Sunderland boss is keen for a breakthrough before Monday's deadline.
Swansea's Ki Sung-Yeung remains on the list of contenders to arrive and is understood to be close to finalising a season long loan, while it has emerged AC Milan's Antonio Nocerino, Inter's Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Steaua Bucharest's Alexandru Bourceanu are also in De Fanti's thinking.
Di Canio is still hoping for a new left-back and another forward, but with little extra money available for transfers it is believed Sunderland will have to be creative to bring in the men they want.
The sale of Sessegnon would assist that and the player's midweek indiscipline - when he was stopped by Northumbria Police driving in Newcastle while his team-mates were playing MK Dons - could yet be how he signs off as a Black Cats player.
Di Canio has not considered the Benin international for today's game at Crystal Palace and has left him behind in the North-East rather than take him to London.
How Sunderland could do with a Kevin Phillips to fill the hole Sessegnon has left behind – and Di Canio is well aware of the club's post-war record goalscorer's achievements during his six years on Wearside.
Phillips scored 113 goals during that time and has shown for Palace at the age of 40 he still knows exactly where the net is.
“Phillips was always a player my team-mates said to be careful of, because he’ll drop, attack this space between the two, he can turn, move the ball and strike.
He’s a fantastic finisher, always a danger man,” said Di Canio.
“He was one of the best finishers, a sort of Jermain Defoe of his period. Different characteristics in an open space because Defoe can run. But he was dangerous because if he can turn, go one-on-one and move the ball, it can fly. From 25 yards he can beat you.”
Phillips is likely to appear at some stage tonight because his manager, Ian Holloway, likes to give him a burst from the bench in the closing stages of matches.
The touchline should be an interesting place at Selhurst Park when Holloway and Di Canio come face-to-face with each other in front of a packed crowd and TV cameras.
The pair are regarded as two of the Premier League's most mad-cap managers. Di Canio insists, though, there is more to both bosses than just passion.
“I’m better looking, but we’re not crazy,” said Di Canio. “In my opinion, some people underestimate the real value of the man. When you move to the dugout, you have a different expression, a different vocabulary.
“He’s done fantastically at the clubs he’s managed but people forget that because if they’ve gone down, that’s all they remember. But it’s not easy to stay up.
“He’s got good tactical skills, but people don’t look at this because of his public expression. That is not fair. I like him, I like his passion and it’s clear that he’s got tactical skill. He’s got knowledge. But I hope I can beat him, that my team can beat his team.”
To boost his chances of overcoming Holloway's Premier League newcomers, Di Canio has last season's leading goalscorer Steven Fletcher to call on again.
Fletcher has not played since requiring surgery on ankle ligament damage in April and his manager is looking forward to having him available.
“When he’s ready, he’s a crucial player. Very important,” said Di Canio. “He’s another option but I will decide when I feel he can give his maximum to the cause.
“I have to decide when to select him in the starting XI. That doesn’t mean he can’t start on Saturday, we will see. For now, we are happy to have him back. He can take advantage of the way we play this year and we can take advantage of him being crucial for us.”
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