AZ Alkmaar are aware they face a battle to keep coach Louis van Gaal away from Sunderland.

The Mail on Sunday says Van Gaal has told his bosses at Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar that Sunderland want him as their manager next season.

It means current coach Ricky Sbragia faces the sack even if Sunderland stay up, with Van Gaal, former coach of Ajax and Barcelona, keen to join the Premier League. The deal would be dependent on Sunderland avoiding relegation to the Championship and American owner Ellis Short completing his buy-out of the club in the summer.

Sunderland director Chris Woerts, who was brought to the club from Feyenoord last year by Short, has impressed Van Gaal with the club's vision.