CALUM Davenport is still hoping to secure a permanent move to Sunderland – despite the Black Cats making Manchester City skipper Richard Dunne their main defensive target.
Davenport was signed by previous boss Ricky Sbragia and after a long wait for a first team debut he posted some impressive displays as Sunderland battled to stay in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old stated his desire to stay on Wearside several times during his loan spell and Sbragia indicated an aspiration to keep him at Sunderland – but the appointment of Steve Bruce as manager and the Ellis Short takeover has shifted the financial parameters at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland remain keen to strengthen at the back but it is Manchester City defender Dunne – wanted by Roy Keane last summer while the Citizens still harboured serious money worries – who has re-emerged as a target, putting any move for Davenport into doubt.
Still, the West Ham defender’s representatives will seek talks with new boss Bruce when the pair return from holiday next week to find out if there is a place in Sunderland’s plans for him next season.
The Stadium of Light appears his preferred destination, but there is interest from Premier League newcomers Wolves to fall back on if Sunderland opt for other targets.
A source close to Davenport told The Journal: “Of course Calum’s still interested in moving to Sunderland. He loved the club, the people and staff there and fitted in well with the other players. He loved his time in the North East and if there was a chance to go back he’d definitely be interested.
“Of course, with there being a new manager next season he’s not really sure where he stands. It all depends on whether Steve Bruce sees a role for him.” Davenport certainly did more for the red-and-white cause than fellow January loanee Tal Ben Haim, who is almost certain not to return to Sunderland after a disappointing spell with the Black Cats.
But it remains to be seen whether Bruce, who said Sunderland’s financial muscle meant he will be shopping in Harrods rather than Tesco, will pursue more established targets when he returns from Portugal next week.
Dunne certainly qualifies on that front, and Sunderland have attempted to steal a march on Tottenham and Stoke by expressing an interest in the Republic of Ireland man. The overhaul of Manchester City’s squad is being funded by the mega-rich Abu Dhabi United Group and it looks likely to claim many of the club’s established names.
Dunne’s performance for his country against Bulgaria at the weekend confirms that he still retains Premier League pedigree but Mark Hughes has been charged with transforming his team from mid-table side into genuine Champions League contenders – and the defender may be a high-profile casualty.
He would be available for a fee of around £5m and Bruce would hope to tempt him with a ‘vision’ of what Sunderland can become. The centre of defence is a priority area of improvement for the Black Cats’ new boss, who is also considering a move for Titus Bramble – Wigan’s player of the season last year.
Davenport retains some favour at the Stadium of Light because of his exemplary attitude when left out of the team in the early stages of his loan spell. But Sunderland would be buying potential with the West Ham man, rather than ready-made Premier League class.
Bruce has been linked with a clutch of names, but there is genuine interest in Spurs striker Darren Bent and Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole.