Is Andreas Granqvist the mystery man in O'Neill's sights? - Laurence Griffiths
Martin O'Neill headed off to Scandinavia in midweek to cast his eye over a potential target - but just who is the mystery man? Well, we don't know. We know nothing. You should all know that by now. But we like guessing games...
Most of us dare not to even acknowledge that Christmas is coming yet, but it seems that Martin O'Neill is already thinking about the January sales.
The Sunderland manager jetted out to Stockholm last week to watch Sebastian Larsson and Sweden beat England, but he evidently had his eye on someone else.
O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo:
Yes, it was a scouting trip. I went there only for the game, so I didn't see much of Sweden. It was a quick fly-in, fly-out job.
Mostly I prefer to see players playing for their clubs - I think club level tends to be everything when it comes to assessing players.
But where that's impractical then I'm prepared to see them playing for their country, and that was the case this week.
So, one or two tantalizing little clues in there.
There are some suggestions that the target was 25-year-old Celtic right back Mikael Lustig. Certainly, given his tall stature, workmanlike demeanor, and British club, he fits the stereotypical O'Neill mold.
Would popping across the border to see Lustig play in The Scottish Premier League really be impractical, though? You wouldn't have thought so. The same can be said of other British-based players Jonas Olsson, Martin Olson, and Alexander Kacaniklic.
Of the other starters, Kim Kallstrom, Rasmus Elm, Andreas Isaksson, and Mathias Ranegie were all on the move just last summer, so can essentially be ruled out for a January switch.
That does, however, leave one other interesting name in the frame - Andreas Granqvist. The Bologna - and former Wigan - man again fits the O'Neill mold and with Wes Brown still struggling for fitness and the futures of Titus Bramble and Matthew Kilgallon somewhat up on the air, the centre back position is surely one that O'Neill will start looking at sooner rather than later.
A nice little mystery, all in all. Or may be we shouldn't be reading anything into it at all. O'Neill added:
It's a part of the job, and just because I take in a game doesn't mean signings will follow.
It's important to get out there and see what players you can, when you can. Often you can go to a game to see one player and it is another that catches your eye.
So, just so sum up - Could be something, could be nothing, but it's fun to speculate.