England striker Peter Crouch flew into the north-east this morning to discuss a £12m switch to Sunderland.
The 28-year-old arrived at Newcastle International Airport at around 11.10am after the Black Cats finally agreed a fee with Portsmouth at around midnight last night.
He will hold talks with Steve Bruce, but has also been heavily linked with Fulham amid suggestions he will head for the London club tomorrow.
The 6ft 7in frontman has reportedly become unsettled by the ongoing uncertainty off the pitch at Fratton Park and is ready to consider a move away just a year after joining the club from Liverpool.
Tottenham are also understood to have an interest in him, with manager Harry Redknapp having worked with the player at both Southampton and Pompey.
Macclesfield-born Crouch scored 16 goals in 49 appearances for his club last season, and also played six times for England, finding the back of the net in World Cup qualifier victories over Ukraine and Andorra.
Bruce admitted his interest in the player yesterday, and said his capture would signal Sunderland’s intent this season.
He said: “He is a player I have admired for a very long time, and I suppose a lot of other managers do exactly the same thing.
“We hope we can try to put something together because he would be the type of player, of course, that would signal our intention of the way we want to take the football club forward.”
Bruce has already signed one striker this summer, England Under-21 international Fraizer Campbell, while Paraguay skipper Paulo da Silva has also completed a move to the Stadium of Light.
Bruce is also hoping predecessor Ricky Sbragia will accept his offer of a new role with the club.
The Scot, who stood down as manager following the final game of last season after a brief spell in charge, had been promised a job for life by chairman Niall Quinn.
Bruce has asked him to head up the club’s new-look scouting set-up, and is hoping to have his answer some time next week.
The manager said: “I am revamping the scouting at the club – I think it is a vitally important part, especially today – and I have offered Ricky the head role in that.
“He has said to me he will have a look at it, he will consider it.
“I have put no real time limit on it, but I would expect by next week that Ricky will tell me one way or the other whether he wants to take up the role or whether he doesn’t.
“I sincerely hope he does because he is a very genuinely good man and good at his job.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland confirmed today that reserve team Neil Bailey, who assisted Sbragia during his spell in charge, has left the club.
His departure comes following the arrival of Bruce and his own coaching team, including Eric Black, Nigel Spink and Keith Bertschin.
Quinn told the club’s official website, www.safc.com: “I would like to personally thank Neil for the fantastic job he has done during his time at the club.
“As well as steering the reserves to a league title, he stepped in to assist with first-team duties under Ricky Sbragia and gave us vital support when the club needed it most.
“I’m sure there will be a huge demand for his experience within the football world and he departs with my very best wishes.”
Bailey follows chief scout Mick Brown out of the club.