SUNDERLAND have made a £10million bid for Spurs striker Peter Crouch, with the move potentially funded by Anton Ferdinand's departure to Premier League newcomers Queens Park Rangers.
On a busy afternoon of transfer activity on Wearside, the Black Cats entered into talks with QPR with a view to a cut-price £3m deal for Ferdinand, before submitting the bid for long-time target Crouch.
Emmanuel Adebayor’s loan move to Spurs from Manchester City means Crouch (pictured left) has dropped down the pecking order at White Hart Lane. Stoke were interested in signing the England striker until that deal fell through earlier in the week.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has twice signed Crouch – for Portsmouth and then for Spurs – but has admitted he is now prepared to let the 31-year-old move on.
“It’s up to Crouchy,” said Redknapp. “I’ve had Peter at a few clubs. Good player, great guy as well. But I suppose with Adebayor coming in, it’s an area that we are a little bit overloaded in and he’s one that people want, so if we could do a deal with someone, then it’s a possibility.”
Sunderland’s bid for Crouch represents Bruce’s third attempt to bring the player to Wearside, having failed last summer and the year before.
In 2009, Sunderland had a £12m bid accepted by Portsmouth for the targetman but at that stage the player chose a move to Spurs – and a reunion with his old Pompey boss Redknapp – over a switch to Sunderland.
Bruce tried again last summer but the combination of Spurs’ asking price and Crouch’s wages proved too expensive, and he moved for Ghana’s World Cup star Asamoah Gyan instead.
Record £13m buy Gyan scored 10 goals in his maiden Premier League campaign, but has looked out-of-sorts and has failed to find the net so far this term.
That has prompted Bruce to re-enter the transfer market as he looks to bring in at least one proven top-flight striker to help solve his side’s goalscoring problems – they have scored just once in their first four games.
With the transfer window set to shut at 11pm tonight, Crouch’s name is at the top of Bruce’s list of possible candidates, although Wolfsburg’s Patrick Helmes, Manchester City’s Craig Bellamy and Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner all remain on his radar.
But each of those players would demand a large salary to move to the North East, and that meant Bruce needs to move someone out before he can bring anyone in.
Ferdinand cost £8m when he left his boyhood favourites West Ham to move to the North East three years ago, and he is one of Sunderland’s biggest earners on a reported £40,000-per-week.
He is in the final year of his contract and could leave for nothing unless Sunderland sell him before the end of the season.
The 26-year-old has started every game so far this season, but Bruce is willing to sacrifice him in order to free up space on the club’s wage bill to accommodate Crouch.
QPR have money to spend after Malaysian airline tycoon Tony Fernandes acquired a majority shareholding in the club earlier this month.
He immediately handed manager Neil Warnock money to reinforce his squad, and he has wasted no time in signing Joey Barton from Newcastle, Luke Young from Aston Villa and Armand Traore from Arsenal.
:: SUNDERLAND’S Premier League game against Stoke City at the Stadium of Light, which was due to be played on Saturday, September 17, has been moved to the Sunday due to Stoke’s involvement in the Europa League group stage. The rescheduled game will kick off at 1pm.