Sunderland target Kalou eyes Premier return

Salomon Kalou.
Salomon Kalou.

SUNDERLAND target Salomon Kalou is on the verge of leaving French side Lille after being left out of their Champions League qualifier last night.

The Black Cats made an enquiry with Lille for Kalou last week, as they consider a contingency plan for the final few days of the transfer window, should they miss out on main target Fabio Borini.

Sources in France have indicated that Kalou is now close to the exit door after he wasn’t even on the bench for Lille against Porto last night, although there is also intense interest in the former Chelsea man from the Bundesliga.

The Echo understands Kalou’s representatives held talks in Germany with a couple of clubs last week - thought to be Wolfsburg and Borussia Munchengladbach - over the 29-year-old, who is available for around £3million.

But Kalou is thought to have hesitated over a move to the Bundesliga, with the Ivory Coast international keen on a second spell in England after spending six seasons at Chelsea.

However, Sunderland will only press ahead with their pursuit of Kalou if their hopes of re-signing Borini finally reach a dead-end.

Despite Sunderland’s interest in re-signing Borini dragging on throughout the summer, the Liverpool frontman remains Gus Poyet’s first-choice solution to fill the void on the left flank.

Reports in Italy yesterday suggested AC Milan had made an enquiry with Liverpool for Borini, as they consider options to replace the departed Mario Balotelli.

But Poyet is hopeful that Borini, who was again left out of the Liverpool squad for Monday’s defeat at Manchester City, will join Sunderland on a second season-long loan spell after the Black Cats’ withdrew their £14million permanent offer for the Italian.

Even if Sunderland’s move for Borini falls through, the left-sided forward position remains the club’s priority in the remainder of the window, although a centre-half and central midfielder are also on Poyet’s wish-list.

Striker Connor Wickham has been deployed in that role for the opening two games of the campaign, albeit Poyet is likely to shuffle his pack for tonight’s Capital One Cup second round tie at Birmingham.

Poyet insists Wickham is happy to fill in on the left flank, although he wants to use the 21-year-old as a central striker.

“He likes it out there, by the way. But I would prefer him in the middle,” the Sunderland boss told the Echo.

“We need to rearrange that a little bit so he can play more up front.”

Wickham faces competition from Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore for that central spot, and Poyet admits his selection will be governed by who boasts the scoring touch among the trio.

“It depends on them and on who scores goals,” he added.

“I think it’s a challenge for the three of them. They’ve got a great opportunity.

“Jozy last week in training was superb - it was top corner, left foot and right foot.”