Hammers and Hull in hunt for Sunderland’s Emanuele Giaccherini
FA Cup second-favourites Hull (7/2) have joined fellow mid-table Premier League team West Ham and Serie A side Genoa in the race for Sunderland winger Emanuele Giaccherini.
The former Juventus player has sat out three of the last four Black Cats matches, and was an unused substitute in their loss at relegation rivals Norwich (5/4 to go down). Gus Poyet’s men are seven points from safety, and odds-on at 1/5 to lose top-flight status.
Sunderland pulled off a coup by getting Giaccherini in the first place, so vultures will circle if they cannot pull off a great escape. They have two games in hand on the three sides directly above them, but one of those matches is against title favourites Manchester City at the Etihad.
Comfortable on either flank, Giaccherini has demonstrated his versatility on international duty under pragmatic Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli. He also been deployed in an advanced midfield role and occasionally as a wing back.
Such utility would be a welcome boost for Tigers boss Steve Bruce, because he alternates between 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 systems. It would also generate competition for places at the KC Stadium, with Egypt’s Ahmed Elmohamady and Republic of Ireland international Robbie Brady being first-choice wide men when fit.
Hammers manager Sam Allardyce, meanwhile, will be looking to strengthen his options on the wing for next season, after Stewart Downing and Matt Jarvis have had disappointing campaigns. They have made just six Premier League assists between them, so Big Sam has used midfielder Mohamed Diame on the flanks instead.
Should Giaccherini go to Genoa, he would link up with Italy teammate Alberto Gilardino. Gian Piero Gasperini, who infamously managed Inter Milan without recording a competitive win in 2011, is in his second stint at the club
Hull face 16/1 FA Cup outsiders Sheffield United, who are two divisions below them, in the second semi-final. Back the Tigers to repeat the scoreline from their last visit to Wembley – a 1-0 win – at 24/5.