Titus Bramble has completed his move from Wigan Athletic to Sunderland. The 28-year-old centre-back has signed a three-year deal and could make his debut for the Black Cats in tomorrow evening's friendly with Hull City in Portugal.
Bramble headed out to the Algarve earlier this week after the two clubs settled on an undisclosed fee, understood to be in the region of £1m, and has passed a medical and agreed personal terms, although the final administrative details were only completed today. Manager Steve Bruce was delighted to have captured a player he first tried to sign 12 months ago after they enjoyed a successful spell together at the Latics.
"Titus was absolutely outstanding for me at Wigan," said the former Manchester United defender. "He matured into a very, very good player, so there was absolutely no hesitation when the chance came to bring him to Sunderland. He was certainly the right player at the right price, and this is a great deal for the football club."
Bramble began his career at hometown club Ipswich Town, where he broke into the first team as a teenager before winning a £5m move to Newcastle United during the summer of 2002. However, his time at St James' Park was blighted by a series of high-profile blunders and despite the backing he received from Sir Bobby Robson, the man who had signed him, and his successor, Graeme Souness, he was never able to win over his doubters.
He moved to Wigan in 2007 when his Magpies deal was allowed to expire, and has since re-invented himself, particularly during his time working under Bruce. Bramble's arrival on Wearside may not meet with universal approval, but at his best, he is a powerful defender whose ability has rarely been in question, although the same has not always been said of his concentration levels.
Ins and outs
He becomes Sunderland's fourth close-season acquisition after Cristian Riveros, Simon Mignolet and loan signing Ahmed Al-Muhammadi, and he is unlikely to be the last with Bruce still keen to add to his defensive cover. The Black Cats are hoping to push through their move for Argentinian full-back Marcos Angeleri next week once he has received his Italian passport, while another loan deal for Ghana international John Mensah remains a possibility.
One man unlikely to be at the Stadium of Light next season is Hungary goalkeeper Marton Fulop, despite Craig Gordon's recent injury setback. Bruce is currently pondering his options - a deal for David James is believed to be under consideration - with the Scotland international destined to miss the opening months of the new campaign with his second arm fracture in eight months. But Fulop will be allowed to leave with Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane among those to have expressed an interest.
Bruce told the Journal: "There has been an enquiry from Ipswich, but I don't think there has been a bid yet. There has been talk with a number of other clubs as well. I'm sure he will go. He wants to play football and I'm not going to stand in his way.
"With the injury to Craig, it has got me thinking a bit [about the goalkeeping situation], but Marton wants to play regularly so something will happen there. I don't know whether it will be Ipswich, we will have to wait and see."