Sunderland’s Di Canio cheered by ‘exciting’ Mavrias

Panathinaikos Charis Mavrias celebrates  during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying, Third Round match at Fir Park, Motherwell. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 31, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Motherwell. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
Panathinaikos Charis Mavrias celebrates during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying, Third Round match at Fir Park, Motherwell. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 31, 2012. See PA story SOCCER Motherwell. Photo credit should read: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

PAOLO Di Canio admits to being a big admirer of young Greek winger Charis Mavrias and hopes the Panathinaikos star’s move to Sunderland is completed soon.

The Italian head coach regards the 19-year-old as an exciting talent, but he did not want to say too much in his weekly local Press conference before the protracted £2.5million move is agreed.

Di Canio should not have too long to wait, though, with the teenager arriving on Wearside yesterday with a view to finalising a deal, the details of which were hammered out last month.

Mavrias and his agent had hoped that the transfer would go through weeks ago, after the two clubs agreed a £1.5m down payment increasing by £1m with add-ons.

But Sunderland stalled on the move and then returned with an offer of a loan switch, which was rejected, before eventually agreeing last week to go back to the original terms.

Di Canio’s reluctance to talk about prospective incoming and outgoings is understandable, with moves for Gino Peruzzi, Benjamin Mendy and Lucas Orban – as well as Mavrias – reaching advanced stages before breaking down.

But there’s no doubt that Di Canio will be happier when he has the Greek starlet on board.

“Until a player signs, I would prefer not to say too much about them,” he said.

“But what do I know about Mavrias? I know him, I know that he is a very good prospect, I know that he’s a very exciting player.

“But I don’t want to talk about him, or any more about what was said about Sessegnon at the weekend because things you say about transfers can easily cause problems and confusion so I would prefer to wait and see.”

Despite his caution though, Di Canio knows that the arrival of Mavrias – the second youngest player to play Champions League football, behind Celestine Babayaro, and already a twice-capped Greek international – would be a big part of the jigsaw in terms of Sunderland’s first-team plans.

Should the deal go through, it would mean Di Canio has two established international wingers – Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Johnson – on either flank, and two young international wingers as understudies, in the shape of Mavrias on the left and Swedish U19 star David Moberg Karlsson on the right.

With attacking widemen in a 4-2-4 formation so much a part of Di Canio’s plans, he has regarded it as essential that he has deputies on the flank to continue the attacking formation should his first-choices fall to injury, suspension or poor form.

Both Jack Colback and Seb Larsson are also capable of playing out wide, but Di Canio’s vision is for his wingers to be out-and-out, pacey attackers and he would prefer not to use the two stalwarts there, if possible, this season.

The Italian said at the weekend that, in an ideal world, he would like five more new players in before the transfer window closes.

Those players were, in order of priority: a creative central midfielder, a winger, a left-back, another central midfielder and a utility player.

So, if Mavrias signs, that will be one of the head coach’s primary positions filled.

And Di Canio has admitted that should he be able to get that key midfielder, which is his overwhelming priority, and a left-back, to go with a new winger, he would be more than content with the work done in the current window.