Connor Wickham has rejected a new contract at Sunderland – while the club are believed to have made a bid for left-back Marcos Alonso.
Alonso’s club Fiorentina wanted a straight cash deal for the player, while Sunderland are keen to use Modibo Diakite in a part-exchange.
But after impressing on loan last season, he remains someone high on manager Gus Poyet’s wishlist.
Wickham, meanwhile, had been in discussions over a new deal at the Stadium of Light with a view to heading off the situation that Sunderland found themselves in with Jack Colback, Seb Larsson and Phil Bardsley this close season. Two of the three left for nothing and the uncertainty affected Sunderland’s summer planning – which is not something the club wanted to happen with Wickham.
But Sunderland’s efforts have been thwarted with Wickham turning down the club’s first offer amid interest from Southampton and Crystal Palace, who are both monitoring the availability of the England under-21 striker.
Wickham’s late flurry of goals rescued Sunderland’s Premier League status and offered him a fresh opportunity on Wearside but he still splits opinion among the Stadium of Light hierarchy and even as recently as May former chairman Niall Quinn was urging him to work harder to fulfil his talent.
Whatever concerns there may be about Wickham’s work rate his departure would cause problems for Sunderland, who already need to sign a striker as part of their recruitment drive. They want to bring Fabio Borini back to Wearside but that deal has stalled with Liverpool having just lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
Sunderland are already set to lose Ignacio Scocco to Newell’s and that would leave the Black Cats with just Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore left of Poyet’s striking pack. The Cats have moved to address the issue by inviting Crewe forward Max Clayton to train with them but the 19-year-old would surely be viewed as one for the future rather than a readymade Premier League striker.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa are looking at Swansea midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland.
The Swans are eager to offload Ki and he may be available for around £3million, which has piqued the interest of Villa – who are hunting for bargains.