Sunderland have completed a trio of free transfer signings as Paolo Di Canio looks to overhaul his current squad.
Valentin Roberge, Modibo Diakite and Cabral have all moved to the Stadium of Light on three-year-deals after their contracts expired with Maritimo, Lazio, and FC Basel respectively.
French centre-back Roberge played in his homeland and Greece, before signing for Portuguese side Maritimo in 2010, while Diakite – also from France – has been plying his trade in Serie A with Lazio since 2006, albeit generally as a squad player. Cabral is a Cape Verde international who boasts Champions League experience with Basel.
With Di Canio keen to bring a number of new faces ahead of his first full Premier League campaign with the club, Sunderland are also hopeful of confirming the signing of Le Havre’s El-Hadji Ba in the coming weeks.
The midfielder announced the deal to L’Equipe last month and is thought to have agreed a three-year contract that will see his current club net around €400,000 in compensation.
Ba has also claimed he has snubbed interest from Tottenham to sign for the Wearsiders, telling GFN France: “I feel great. I cannot wait to go to Sunderland to show them what I am capable of. I had other clubs who were interested in me, but Sunderland have wanted me for ages, even before I turned pro.
“That is what tipped the decision in their favour. I do not want to name any clubs out of respect. I have started to learn a bit [of English]. I will miss the guys at the club who have helped me and of course all my team-mates. I know he [Di Canio] is a manager who likes to win, like me. I had been convinced to join Sunderland before he was appointed this year.
“I want to confront the best of the best to show that I am capable. I want to prove myself. Yes there was a moment where they [Spurs] wanted me, but now it is in the past. I am happy to go to Sunderland. I like the atmosphere of the club and the supporters.”
Meanwhile, Velez Sarsfield president Julio Baldomer has confirmed discussions between the club and Sunderland for defender Gino Peruzzi are at an advanced stage.
The promising full-back is highly rated in his homeland having already made his full international debut. Baldomer also claimed that there was interest from Manchester City, but so far only Sunderland have agreed a fee with Velez, believed to be in the region of £3.3 million.
“I would go as a champion, I want to win to take another star [to add to the Velez shirt for winning a title],” he told Olé. Having achieved his goal after Velez beat Newell’s 1-0 on Saturday, significant progress is expected this week with Peruzzi previously admitting a decision would be made once the game had been decided.
Having also spoken to former Newcastle midfielder and Velez general manager Christian Bassedas about the north-east, Peruzzi revealed he is excited by the prospect of England.
“It's nice. And in a league, that for me, is one of the best because of the pace it has. I think English football is more even. I asked about the city, the people, etc. and he [Bassedas] told me about some of the teams. He liked playing there.”