Sunderland are on the verge of bringing Ghana international John Mensah back to the Stadium of Light.
The 27-year-old Lyon star featured in 17 games for the Black Cats during an injury-ravaged 2009-10 season on loan with the club but manager Steve Bruce was impressed with what he saw.
Mensah went on to captain the Black Stars at the recent World Cup, featuring in four of their five matches in South Africa as they reached the quarter-finals.
When asked about the possibility of Mensah coming back to the club, Bruce said:"He's now in Paris picking up his visa, it's not signed but we're virtually there. He's such a good player that anyone who saw him here last year will know why I wanted him back.
"He was the outstanding defender at the World Cup and when he was here last year we were a better team with him in it."
Meanwhile, former Sheffield United defender Matt Kilgallon is expected to join Middlesbrough on loan, with Bruce adding: "We're in talks with Boro as we speak but I don't want him to go permanently, it'll probably be a loan deal."