AHMED Elmohamady’s hopes of staying in the Premier League could rest on tomorrow’s Championship play-off final.
West Ham United are looking at signing the Egyptian – but only if they overcome Blackpool at Wembley.
Former Sunderland defender and Newcastle United manager Sam Allardyce is also eyeing Craig Gordon, who says interest from Celtic is yet to crystallise into an offer.
Elmohamady is surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light, where he made a negligible impact in his second season. The right-back or right-sided midfielder admitted last month: “I want to continue my career in England because the league is fun, and having got used to playing in the English Premier League it would be difficult to leave and play elsewhere.” That, though, may be his only option with no current Premier League club showing interest.
Elmohamady’s season-long loan from ENPPI was made permanent by then-manager Steve Bruce last summer, but successor Martin O’Neill has not been won over. None of the 24-year-old’s eight starts last term came under him. At times O’Neill preferred the likes of Craig Gardner out of position.
Elmohamady’s substitute appearance against Manchester United on Sunday was his ninth for the Ulsterman, and 11th of the campaign.
It is thought Sunderland are prepared to accept around £1.5m for a player with two years left on his contract.
With nothing but pride and prize money to play for, Elmohamady hoped for a chance at the end of the season just gone.
The writing was on the wall when he was allowed to join a mid-season international training camp. He returned in April admitting he would probably have to leave if first-team opportunities were not forthcoming in the final weeks.
Elmohamady is the closest player to Stéphane Sessègnon in Sunderland’s squad, but their desire to keep the playmaker will not save him. O’Neill’s brief this summer is reducing the wage bill.
Gordon and Nicklas Bendtner will also leave, though they are more footballing than financial decisions. Kieran Richardson has been linked with Championship winners Reading.
Sunderland cannot realistically keep Gordon, once their record signing, as third-choice goalkeeper. His contract expires next month.
Bendtner’s eight goals in 30 appearances on loan from Arsenal were insufficient to justify a permanent move, particularly with wages understood to be in the region of £60,000 a week. He blotted his copybook by missing the bus for Sunday’s match, forcing him to catch a taxi from the team hotel and be left out of the 18-man squad. The Euro 2012-bound Denmark striker claims it was not entirely his fault.
“There was some misunderstanding,” he protested. “But we talked about it and it is done now. A mixed bag is the answer to the question of whose fault it was. But I think I’ve had an okay stay in Sunderland and I am pleased to leave after a positive spell.”
Borussia Dortmund have been linked with Bendtner, who is encouraging the Bundesliga double-winners.
“My ambition is to play (in the) Champions League and Germany has some great teams,” he said. “As far as I know, Germany has the second-largest fan culture in Europe, so it’s definitely interesting.”
Malaga’s reported interest in Robert Green has had West Ham looking for replacements. Celtic are also considering Gordon as they struggle to agree terms with on-loan Newcastle goalkeeper Fraser Forster. The Scot accepts his Sunderland career is over.
“It’s just a case now of me progressing my career somewhere else and finding the move that is right for me,” he said.
“There’s nothing going on (with Celtic) at the moment. It’s about seeing what offers come in and picking the best one from there, really.
“I am open to any offer. I would love to stay in the English Premier League.”
Meanwhile, Whitby Town will host what is expected to be a second-string Sunderland side on July 18.