PARAGUAY striker Salvador Cabanas, a recent target for Sunderland, was last night in critical condition after being shot in the head in a bar in Mexico City.
Cabanas, a prolific scorer in the Mexican top flight for Club America, underwent life-saving surgery for seven hours at a Los Angeles hospital.
Doctors prevented a fatal blood clot but were unable to remove the bullet and said the 29-year-old remained in grave danger. “The problem of the blood clot has been solved but the gravity of the situation is not over,” said Dr Ernesto Martinez.
“The bullet is not removed. It is in the back of the brain. We would do more damage if we tried to extract it.”
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce earlier this month admitted his interest in bringing Cabanas (right) to the Premier League, calling him “a fantastic player”.
Cabanas has scored more than 100 times in the Mexican first division, including 18 in 24 games this season, and was set to feature at this summer’s World Cup.
Dr Martinez added: “We cannot assure you that he is out of danger. If he had not been attended to immediately, he would not have survived. Injuries of this type are unclear. We do not know what kind of consequences the patient may have.
“We might have to operate again because we do not know if it will start bleeding. The bullet has not been removed, but his life is of our utmost concern.
“Now, we can only wait. We do not know if he can return to a normal life.”
Officials said two men had been arrested for the attack, which took place in the early hours of Monday morning. Mexico’s Attorney General said he did not know why Cabanas, who remains in intensive care, had been attacked. “We don’t clearly know the motive behind the injury,” said Miguel Angel Mancera.
Sunderland have been linked with a loan move for Cabanas after Bruce said: “I’ve monitored Cabanas. He’s a fantastic player and whether a deal is possible for him, I don’t know.
“He’s somebody who would be of interest to us but I’m sure if he became available, there would be a lot more clubs interested too.”