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Aug 16, 2012

Sunderland confirm Saha swoop

Former Tottenham and Everton striker Louis Saha, has signed a one-year deal with Sunderland.

• Bardsley sidelined after ankle operation
• Premier Fantasy
• Live Transfer Blog: On the Move

Saha, 34, was a free agent after leaving Spurs, and confirmed on Thursday via his Twitter account that he was in discussions with the Wearside club.

The Paris-born striker is available for selection for Sunderland's trip to Emirates Stadium this weekend and is likely to go straight into the travelling squad.

Speaking to the club's official website, manager Martin O'Neill said: "Louis is a striker whose abilities have been proven at the very highest level and he brings with him a raft of experience of top-flight football.

"I'm sure he will be a great addition to our squad in an area we recognise needs strengthening and I'm delighted we have been able to complete the deal ahead of our first game of the season."

Speaking to ESPN, former Sunderland defender Michael Gray said: "It's a great deal. He's obviously a fantastic talent and if we can keep him fit he'll no doubt score goals in the Premier League. He's been at the best. He's played for Man United, he's done fantastic at Fulham and Everton."

Saha has spent the majority of his career England having first joined Sunderland's rivals Newcastle on loan from Metz in 1999. He returned to Metz before signing for Fulham in 2000. After four years with the Cottagers, he then moved north to Manchester United in a deal worth £12.8 million.

The transfer represents a relative breakthrough for Sunderland, who have been frustrated in their attempts to add a striker following the departure of Asamoah Gyan and the Nicklas Bendtner's return to Arsenal.

Despite the deal, Saha's arrival will not end Martin O'Neill's search for strikers as his pursuit of Wolves' forward Steven Fletcher is still unresolved.

This week saw a £12 million bid for the former Burnley frontman rejected, with Wolves releasing a statement requesting a conclusion to the pursuit as they prepare for life in the Championship.

Gray conceded that his former club are still lacking up front, but believes Saha will make an impact at the Stadium of Light.

He told ESPN: "I certainly think we're still lacking a little bit up front - but I think he'll make a huge difference, and he's one that I'm certain the fans will take to. You look at the quality player we've just signed there - and he's come on a free.

"Granted he's a little bit older than Steven Fletcher, but now we're talking about 12-15 million for the likes of Steven Fletcher. It just goes to show you that the quality is out there if you look for it."

The former Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn player, also commended O'Neill for his approach to Sunderland's transfer activity this summer.

"We weren't the highest scoring club in the Premier League last season, and it's something that as a football club we have to address," said Gray. "I think Martin [O'Neill] has gone about it in the right way. He's been patient and he's looked for the right person to bring into the football club.

"If Louis Saha can hit the form that he has done at his last few clubs- we've certainly got a fantastic player on our hands."

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