03/07/2012 16:19 BST | Updated 01/09/2012 06:12 BST

Carlos Cuellar: Sunderland Start Summer with Solid Spanish Signing

Carlos Cuellar has become the first signing in what could be a busy summer for Martin O'Neill and his Sunderland side.

Carlos Cuellar has become the first signing in what could be a busy summer for Martin O'Neill and his Sunderland side.

Cuellar, 30, joins on a free transfer after his contract with Aston Villa expired, signing a two-year deal with the Black Cats.

Rumour had been rife that the Spaniard was Wearside-bound ever since he announced his intention to leave Villa, largely due to his relationship with O'Neill.

The Northern Irishman brought the defender to England from Rangers for a fee in the region of £7.8m.

He was a regular in the two years he spent under O'Neill at Villa Park, although has since found himself in and out of the side.

Although Cuellar is not a big signing, in terms of fee or indeed name, he should prove to be a more than useful addition to the Sunderland squad.

His versatility means he is adept at right back or centre back, which could spell the end for one of Sunderland's other defenders.

George McCartney has joined West Ham permanently, giving fans a reminder he was actually still contracted to the club, while doubts have now been cast over the futures of Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon.

Bramble has had a long time out injured, and drawn negative attention off the field, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him depart the Stadium of Light.

Kilgallon, meanwhile, came in from the cold last season to play his part in the second half of the season, but could still find himself surplus to requirements.

At the other end of the pitch, strikers from the old (Louis Saha) to the gold (kitted, anyway, in the form of Steven Fletcher) have been linked, with O'Neill reportedly keen to bring in at least two attackers.

Fletcher fits the bill as the kind of hard-working target man he likes to play with, while he also contributes his fair share of goals.

However, a transfer fee in excess of £10m has been mooted, which you would imagine would be far more than Sunderland chairman Ellis Short is willing to spend, and certainly more than Fletcher is worth.

Louis Saha is available on a free, and at 33 has at least one good season left in him, certainly as an option from the bench.

If his wages aren't too high he'd be another solid acquisition, although it remains to be seen if he'd fancy another spell in the North East, 13 years after a stint on loan with Newcastle.

Other names linked varied from the scarily possible, such as Emile Heskey, to the sadly extremely impossible, like Sporting Lisbon's Ricky van Wolfswinkel, while Connor Wickham is expected to leave on loan.

Aiden McGeady has also been heavily touted as a possible arrival, and it would be no surprise to see O'Neill trying to sign more players he has worked with in the past.

It's difficult to know what to expect, given the transfer window has been *thrown* open and there's almost two months until it *slams* shut.

In that time there'll be plenty of people 'in the know', while those with actual knowledge will claim to know nothing. David Craig is probably outside the Academy of Light as I type.

It'll be very interesting to see what O'Neill and Short do this summer; it looks unlikely to be a quiet one.