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O'Neill admits deals have stalled as he aims to keep Sessegnon
MARTIN O'NEILL has admitted Sunderland may have to reassess Sunderland's options in the transfer market after failing to make significant progress in their search for new faces.
The Black Cats have been actively pursuing a number of targets as O'Neill looks to strengthen a squad of players that has lost more than has arrived so far this summer.
Scotland striker Steven Fletcher would be O'Neill's preferred purchase, but with Wolves continuing to demand nearer to £15m a deal is looking unlikely unless the asking price drops.
Sunderland have, among others, explored the possibility of signing Manchester City's Adam Johnson and Ajax's Vurnon Anita, but so far there has been a lack of positive news.
Now O'Neill, who takes his time to Sweden today to face Helsingborg in their latest pre-season friendly, is having to consider alternatives before the new season starts with a trip to Arsenal on August 18.
“We have made some bids for players, we are in negotiations with clubs at the moment. We seemed to have stalled on all fronts at this present moment,” said O'Neill, whose only summer signing has been free agent Carlos Cuellar.
“My general view point is that I hope we could improve the team. We have to give ourselves a chance next season. We do know that we are doing our best. Things don't tend to happen overnight any more. We do have some time.”
He added: “From the club's viewpoint, if we can't get the players in that we would like to get in then I think you have to look elsewhere.
“The squad needs strengthening and I will be doing my utmost in the next fortnight and the fortnight after that to do so. It's very important we get players in because we haven't got the strength in depth we want. The other ten managers or so would say the same thing.”
O'Neill has been assured he has money to spend during his first summer in charge on Wearside . His budget, though, would be boosted if Stephane Sessegnon was to leave.
Arsenal and Tottenham are both showing an interest in the £15m-rated forward, while Paris St Germain have also been linked with taking him back to France amid constant suggestions his family have failed to settle in the North-East.
Sessegnon, and Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamady, have not travelled to Sweden because of visa problems, but O'Neill reiterated that he wants to keep the Benin international.
The Sunderland boss said: “We would very much like to keep Stephane. Any manager would want to keep him. He gives us that extra creativity, he is very important to us. I would genuinely like to keep him.
“I would love to give a 'hands off' message. I wish it was as easy as saying 'You can't touch him'. Then I come back here two days later and say 'sorry'. That would be all bravado speak and then he's gone. I couldn't give that sort of message but I definitely want to keep him at this football club.
“There is an element of that (whether his family are happy). But there's only so much you can do. If some families can't settle in areas or countries then you have to take it in to consideration. That was an issue and I just hope that issue disappears again this year. I don't want that to rear its head again.”
Generally speaking the summer transfer window has been slow so far, with Sunderland not the only slow movers in the market.
And while O'Neill remains patient he is keen to ensure there are additions before the window closes on August 31.
“We resume talks with some clubs on Monday. Nothing is imminent. At the moment I'm not frustrated. These things do tend to take time. I might be frustrated on Friday week. Not at the moment,” said O'Neill.
“We would like a bit more quality in. That's the point. The next few months are absolutely vital. I would prefer quality in at this minute and I think we will do so.
“It's obviously a priority that we will get players in. I would be worried if we didn't strengthen and we picked up a few injuries like this club has found before. Then you would struggle.”