Shrewsbury Town defender Aristote 'Toto' Nsiala is thought to be one of the players Sunderland are talking to this week about making a summer move to the Stadium of Light. The 26-year-old has plenty of League One experience after making the step up since joining the Shrews from Hartlepool United in 2017.
The Black Cats continue to pursue several targets ahead of the summer's pre-season preparations beginning towards the end of the month. Nsiala would not come cheaply and has two years left on his deal at New Meadow. A fee of up to half-a-million pounds may be sufficient to prise him from last season's Play-off finalists.
Hartlepool fans recall Nsiala as being a decent enough defender but one ever-capable of dropping a clanger. His six month spell at the Victoria Ground included a couple of sendings off and he eventually departed after growing unhappy at Pools who were becoming increasingly troubled during his stint at the County Durham club.
But the Conogelese defender has steadied his game under the tutelage of Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury and has formed a decent partnership at the back with Mat Sadler, a vastly experienced centre-back who has had spells with Watford and Birmingham.
Nsiala's story is like many of those who play their football in League One and League Two. He rose through the ranks of Everton's academy and featured for the Toffees reserve team before a succession of loan spells paved the way for a permanent signing for Accrington Stanley as a 20-year-old.
After less than 20 games in Lancashire, he then moved on to Torquay and Vietnam before returning to England to sign for Stockport who were managed by his former Accrington boss, John Coleman.
Another move less than six months later proved more successful as the 6ft 3in defender helped Grimsby gain promotion back into the Football League from the Conference. After nearly 80 appearances for the Mariners, Nsiala turned down the offer of a new contract from where he joined 'Pools.
Sunderland desperately require reinforcements in central defence with John O'Shea released and joining Reading, and Papy Djilobodji unlikely to play for the club in the new season. Lamine Kone remains contracted to the Black Cats but will be looking to move on this summer whilst academy graduate Tom Beadling has joined Dunfermline.