Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari was on Wearside today as Sunderland attempted to agree a loan deal for the midfielder.
The 26-year-old flew into the north-east last night after the two clubs reached agreement over a short-term move which could eventually lead to a permanent transfer.
Muntari's arrival came after the Black Cats' pursuit of Paris St Germain midfielder Stephane Sessegnon appeared to have stalled, for the time being at least.
Manager Steve Bruce and chairman Niall Quinn have been on the trail of both men for around a fortnight - the club's interest in the pair pre-dates Darren Bent's shock £24million departure for Aston Villa last week - but negotiations have proved tricky.
However, Sunderland are hopeful of making a breakthrough with Muntari, who will also have to undergo a medical, within the next 24 hours or so.
The Ghana international, who would join international colleagues Asamoah Gyan and John Mensah at the Stadium of Light, knows all about the Barclays Premier League after a spell at Portsmouth prior to winning a £12million-plus move to Inter in July 2008.
However, despite being a key part of former boss Jose Mourinho's plans at the San Siro, Muntari has not enjoyed the same status under successors Rafael Benitez and Leonardo - and he is pondering a move.
Sessegnon's situation, however, is more complicated with internal politics at PSG threatening to scupper his move.
The Black Cats initially attempted to secure the Benin international on a similar basis to the deal on offer for Muntari, a loan spell followed by a permanent transfer.
However, after that met with little success, they showed their hand and attempted to buy the player outright.
But as things became tricky, Sessegnon made no secret of his desire to leave PSG, and that has angered certain members of the club's hierarchy, who are making him sweat.
Sunderland remain hopeful of making a breakthrough, but with just four days of the winter transfer window remaining, time is running out and there is not a great deal they can do about the situation.
It is for that reason that they have stepped up their pursuit of Muntari, but there is a will to finalise deals for both men before Monday's deadline and they are ready to move quickly if things change in Paris.
Bruce is also keen to bring in at least one striker to help plug the gap left by Bent, although is refusing to pay more than he is comfortable with - and as a result has cooled on moves for Ricardo Fuller and Jay Bothroyd.
He is also looking to the European market for a loan deal which could once again become permanent during the summer, when he will attempt to find a long-term replacement for last season's leading scorer.
In addition, Bruce has signalled his intention not to panic buy and waste the proceeds of the Bent windfall on the notoriously inflated January market.Reuse content