New Albion boss Sami Hyypia has revealed he wants to keep talismanic goalscorer Leo Ulloa at the club for at least another year.
The Seagulls are fighting to stave off Premier League interest in Ulloa, who has scored 23 goals in 50 league appearances for the club.
They have already rejected three bids from Leicester for the Argentinian, 28 next month and still with three years remaining on his contract.
Gus Poyet, in charge at the Amex when Ulloa was bought from Spanish side Almeria for around £2 million in January last year, is keeping an eye on developments at Sunderland.
Hyypia, speaking for the first time about Ulloa’s future, told The Argus: “I think for every club it’s very important to keep hold of your best players.
“I hope he will play here at least a year but maybe even after that as well. I think he was an important player last season and we will need him as well to play well next season.”
Hyypia has no set figure in mind of the number of new signings he wants to bolster a squad depleted by the release of six players at the end of the season, including goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and Spanish midfielder Andrea Orlandi, together with the departure to Leicester of veteran centre-half Matt Upson.
He said: “If we get three new players and the three will help the team go forward, that’s enough. If we need seven, okay.
“There’s no number that we have in mind that we need to get. I don’t think you have to sign a player just for (the sake of) signing a player. There has to be a purpose. “There’s a good academy here so I hope a few of the youngsters will make the step up to the first team.”
Hyypia, officially unveiled at a press conference at Albion’s new training ground in Lancing yesterday, is satisfield he will play a bigger role in recruiting players than at his last club Bayer Leverkusen.
The former Liverpool stalwart and Finland international said: “In Germany I didn’t have a lot to say about the signings, the club mostly did them. I am very pleased that my opinion will be heard here.”