Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce's hopes of landing Bayern Munich's Jan Kirchhoff have received a boost after the defender was left out of his club's mid-season trip to Qatar.
The 25-year-old was not among a party of 29 which left for Doha on Wednesday morning, with Bayern confirming he had been left behind to push through a move.
A statement on the club's official website, www.fcbayern.de, said: "The travelling party does not include Jan Kirchhoff, who is away with his agent concluding negotiations for a possible transfer."
The 25-year-old spent last season on loan at Schalke after a previous temporary spell with the Gelsenkirchen club, and is yet to make a competitive senior start for Bayern, for whom he has made one appearance as a substitute during the current campaign.
Sunderland are understood to have a serious interest in him and will hope to push through a move ahead of their next league game, a crunch clash away to Swansea on January 13, with Younes Kaboul facing up to six weeks more on the sidelines through injury.
Allardyce has also been linked with Lorient defender Lamine Kone, although no agreement has yet been reached on that front.