Jack Colback's future will be decided in the next seven days as the midfielder looks for a quick resolution to his contract wrangles – and both Newcastle and Sunderland remain bullish about their chances of recruiting him.
The Journal understands that yesterday was the first day that Colback was officially permitted to talk to clubs about fixing up a new deal, and the Cats’ midfielder was due to make a decision last night on whether to sever his ties with Sunderland.
The Black Cats made a fresh contract offer last week after a fresh round of talks with sporting director Lee Congerton, but Newcastle are ready to pounce with a four-year contract offer if he decides to leave.
Whatever happens, it is likely to be concluded quickly. The player wants his future resolved before he jets out on holiday and will be aware of interest from several Premier League clubs – along with Scottish champions Celtic, who have made an enquiry in the last fortnight.
If he opts to leave Sunderland – and there is still a chance he may walk away despite that round of negotiations last week – then he could be fixed up with a new club before the weekend.
Colback is understood to have been made a final offer by the Cats and it is now up to him whether to accept or reject the deal on the table at the Stadium of Light.
Gus Poyet has been pressing the club to retain his services but there was an element of dismay that he announced the player would be leaving in April when no firm decision had been taken either way. Now that the club are safe and Colback played such a vital role there has been a fresh impetus in Sunderland’s contract discussions, but more lucrative offers may come from elsewhere.
The complicating and intriguing factor is Newcastle’s continuing interest in the midfielder. Colback has also attracted interest from West Ham, Aston Villa and Everton but the Magpies have shown one of the strongest interests in a player who has his admirers among the St James’ Park staff.
The Magpies are looking to France to recruit playmaker Remy Cabella but retain an interest in Colback, who comes from a United-supporting family. Whatever happens, Sunderland’s midfield is likely to be entirely revamped over the summer months.
Craig Gardner has been cut loose by the Black Cats and is set to join West Brom in the coming weeks while Ki Sung-Yueng is unlikely to be back at Sunderland after returning to Swansea. There were reports in Spain yesterday that Alfred N’Diaye may yet be back on Wearside after completing his loan spell at Real Betis.
There is also continued uncertainty about Sebastien Larsson, although Sunderland have moved to offer him a new contract after initially erring on the Sweden winger.
“Yes, I can say that it is true. They have suggested it and we’ll see what they come back with,” his agent Per Jonsson said.
“We want to be clear with his future relatively soon. Preferably before the World Cup, if possible.”
He was linked with Napoli over the weekend but Jonsson dashed those reports. He said: “There is no truth in it, they’ve probably been and looked at him, but clubs are looking at players all the time. I know nothing about that in any case, and I think that we would have heard something.”
Meanwhile, N’Diaye has spoken of the dramatic scenes during the final game of his Real Betis loan spell when a barrier collapsed at Osasuna. He helped carry fans out of the away end.
He said: “Osasuna had just scored. People were celebrating the goal, there was a stampede to the front and the metal barrier dropped. It was amazing because even though it is not a big stand it is very vertical. And there, I saw people on each other. I do not know how, maybe a few dozen. It was shocking.
“I went to see if everyone was okay. I saw a little one who was not well. There were not enough rescuers so my team-mates and I, we tried to help. In those moments, you do not think football.”