Sunderland set sights on summer swoop for Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton
Following a successful Premier League survival bid this season, Sunderland will now turn attentions towards bolstering their stuttering squad in order to avoid another relegation battle next term, and Celtic’s talented midfielder Nir Bitton is high on the priority list this summer.
The Black Cats secured their top-flight status under the guidance of Dick Advocaat, with a goalless draw against Arsenal being enough to keep them in the top tier and avoid needing a final day result over champions Chelsea (8/1 with Coral to win), but a £5m move for in-form Bitton could boost central areas for next season.
Israel international midfielder Bitton has been one of the Bhoys’ star performers in another trophy-laden campaign in Scotland, having helped the Hoops clinch both a League Cup triumph and a fourth consecutive Premiership title.
The 23-year-old former Ashdod maestro was almost part of a treble winning side under Norwegian boss Ronny Deila, having been dramatically toppled by Inverness in the Scottish FA Cup semi-final clash last month in extra-time, as the club reached their first-ever final outing against outsiders Falkirk (5/2).
Nevertheless, in-form Bitton has been an impressive anchorman in the heart of Celtic’s midfield, having signed a deal at Parkhead in 2013 for £700k, and the in-form Israeli enforcer is exactly the calibre of player Sunderland are seeking.
Current coach Advocaat is soon expected to make a decision on his future on Wearside, but whether he stays or goes, it is reported the club will still aim to lure Bitton to the Stadium of Light. Their Dutch boss, though, recently urged a productive summer after successive seasons of struggle.
“This is the moment for Sunderland to do something,” stated Advocaat. “You cannot buy for £40 million eight players. You have to try to get more quality in your squad, more competition.
“That’s how you make the team stronger. He [chairman Ellis Short] has spent millions on the team, but the quality was not always there, but hopefully he can now start with another set-up, bringing in fewer players but more quality.”
The 67-year-old temporary manager has done a great job of keeping Sunderland in the Premier League, but with or without him in charge this summer, the Black Cats will hope to secure the signing of Celtic’s energetic midfield engine Bitton.
Deila’s Hoops will soon have their bitter Old Firm rivals Rangers back in the country’s op-flight next season, after reaching the Championship play-offs, and they are odds-on 10/11 to make a return alongside the Bhoys.